Johnny Depp’S Career In “Pirates” Is Ended By Tom Cruise With A Franchise

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Hollywood’s top stars are Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp, two of the world’s most famous faces and names. But in a specific franchise, one would abruptly put an end to the other’s career. It would be challenging to locate someone who is unfamiliar with the names Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp. Both performers have had successful and long careers in the film industry, having been in a number of massive blockbuster movies.

For Cruise, his work in action franchises like Mission: Impossible and Top Gun has cemented him as a leading man of the genre. His return as Peter “Maverick” Mitchell in last year’s Top Gun (1986) sequel, Top Gun: Maverick (2022), was a critical and commercial success and cited as saving the theatrical movie industry in this ever-changing streaming world. This year, Cruise returned as Ethan Hunt in the next installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (2023).

The Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, produced by The Walt Disney Company, features actor Johnny Depp as its leading man. Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) would go on to become one of the most adored fictional characters in the modern era following a string of successes in the 1980s and 1990s. Depp remained a part of the Pirates series up until the 2017 film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, after which he was fired from the project because of his legal issues with his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Between the pair of them, they have crossed genres multiple times, from action adventures to dramas to even musicals. Cruise and Depp have never stuck with just one. Depp’s frequent collaboration with Tim Burton has also seen him be the star in many a cult classic, including Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Corpse Bride (2005). In 2010, Depp would net a huge sum after his appearance as the Mad Hatter in Burton’s live-action Disney remake Alice in Wonderland helped the feature film soar over $1 billion worldwide.

Yet, with all the success comes the inevitable box office bombs. And, in fact, one Tom Cruise vehicle would end up canceling Depp’s future with a fledgling franchise.

Back in 2017, Tom Cruise would appear as U.S. Army sergeant Nick Morton in Universal Pictures’ reboot of The Mummy franchise. The Mummy (2017) found Cruise’s character on a mission against ancient evil, but even with Cruise up front and an array of other talent, including Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde, the reboot attempt would fall flat with critics and audiences. The Mummy ended its theatrical run with $410 million, losing millions due to its high production and marketing costs.

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The result of The Mummy then saw Universal’s attempt at reviving its Dark Universe canceled, including Johnny Depp’s role in what would be the reboot of The Invisible Man. As movie fans later found out, The Invisible Man would eventually be released in 2020, with Elizabeth Moss leading the feature film instead of Depp.

The cancellation of the Dark Universe, which was supposed to feature films based on Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Bride of Frankenstein, left a significant gap for Universal Pictures, especially given that rival studios like Disney and Warner Bros. already had the Marvel and DC cinematic universes up and running. Due to the box office failure of Cruise’s The Mummy and Johnny Depp pulling out of the next The Invisible Man film, which is set in the Dark world, Universal was left without one shared cinematic world and one incredibly well-known star.

Johnny Depp’s Legal Troubles

Right now, Johnny Depp has a limited Hollywood presence. Depp hasn’t starred in a major film since Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), and he’s currently enjoying life in Somerset, England, and travelling with his band, the Hollywood Vampires.

In Minamata in 2020 and Jeanne du Barry in 2023, which opened the Cannes Film Festival, he most recently played King Louis XV. Following Depp’s defeat at the London High Court in 2020, Mads Mikkelsen was recast in the part of his character Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spinoff. Following charges of domestic abuse, Depp sued The Sun and News Group Newspapers for libel after they dubbed the actor a wife-beater.

Concerning his relationship with ex-wife and Aquaman franchise star Amber Heard, Depp would return to the courtroom last year in a $150 million defamation suit sparked by Heard’s writing of an Op-Ed in The Washington Post in late 2018. In a courtroom presided over by Judge Penney Azcarate, Heard would be found guilty of defaming Depp and ordered to pay millions in damages. Depp was also found guilty of one count of defamation through the actions of his former lawyer, Adam Waldman.

Since the defamation case in Fairfax County, Virginia, last year, Depp has apparently changed his mind on whether he would return to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Heard will next appear in DC Studios’ Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) in December.

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