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Johnny Depp’s Star Power Fading as ‘Mortdecai’ Flames Out

Betting on Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” has turned out to be a nightmare for Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment, which financed the $60 million comedy that few want to see. It’s also another big black eye for Depp as the farce is the latest in a series of high-profile flops for the actor following “Transcendence,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Dark Shadows.”

Friday afternoon estimates showed the R-rated “Mortdecai” pulling in a mere $2 million on its opening day at 2,648 locations, with a weekend take estimated at less than $6 million — about half of recent forecasts. Despite Depp’s apparent efforts to channel the nuttiness of Peter Sellers, critics mostly hammered the film, which scored a dismal 13% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Depp’s career and stature as one of the biggest stars in the world is currently on shaky ground given his struggle to attract huge audiences outside of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Alice in Wonderland” franchises.

Last year’s “Transcendence,” which carried a $100 million pricetag, grossed just $23 million domestically for Alcon and Warner Bros. while 2013’s “The Lone Ranger” was one of the biggest losers in recent years with Disney taking a $150 million writedown on the movie that cost $250 million to produce and more than $100 million to market worldwide. The film grossed just $261 million worldwide.

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Depp’s next films are Warner Bros.’ untitled movie about Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, opening Sept. 18, and Disney’s sequel “Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass,” which opens on May 27, 2016.

The financial pain of “Mortdecai” will be ameliorated somewhat by Lionsgate’s financing structure, which uses foreign pre-sales to limit its downside. CEO Jon Feltheimer has told Wall Street analysts in recent years that using pre-sales as a hedge has limited the studio’s average exposure to about $13 million on each movie. Gigi Pritzker’s OddLot invested in “Mortdecai” as part of its financing partnership with Lionsgate.

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