Johnny Depp is purportedly close to signing on to a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film and before you ask why, The Wrap is also reporting that Depp’s cut of the profits so far for the Pirates franchise is $350 million. That’s enough money to pay someone else to kill the hooker while you watch. Ten times. People often wonder why Johnny Depp is such a nice guy. Fact: $350 million will buy a lot of generosity. Still, it took the man 15 years before he had his first $100 million movie, and now the three-time Oscar nominee gets $350 million for putting on some Guyliner, delivering a bad English accent, and prancing around like a charming buffoon.
Could not have happened to a better guy. Really. We give Johnny Depp a lot of shit for selling out to Disney, but if there’s a guy that’s paid his dues, it’s Johnny Depp. I wish he’d mix it up a little with some more diverse work, instead of tentpoles like Alice in Wonderland, The Lone Ranger and the completely unredeemable The Tourist, but at least he’s making another Hunter S. Thompson flick (Rum Diary) and his sense of humor is such that he’s doing a 21 Jump Street cameo. Still, he deserves a few hundred million dollars for his body of work; it just so happens that the lion’s share of it comes from four films. So it goes.
What is a little disconcerting, however, is how that $350 million stacks up against the 10 Highest Paid Actress of 2010-2011, according to Forbes magazine.
1. Angelina Jolie, $30 million
1. Sarah Jessica Parker, $30 million
3. Jennifer Aniston, $28 million
3. Reese Witherspoon, $28 million
5. Julia Roberts, $20 million
5. Kristen Stewart, $20 million
7. Katherine Heigl, $19 million
8. Cameron Diaz, $18 million
9. Sandra Bullock, $15 million
10. Meryl Streep, $10 million
That list basically highlights the dearth of huge blockbuster female franchise material. Jolie made one very bad (The Tourist) and one mediocre (Salt) film last year, while SJP clearly earned most of hers from reprising her role in the dreadful Sex and the City sequel. Jennifer Aniston is genetically incapable of making a good movie, Julia Roberts hasn’t made one in years, and Kristen Stewart just got lucky and hitched her wagon to a franchise that, during another era, might’ve ended up on ABC Family. Reese Witherspoon, Katherine Heigl, and Cameron Diaz — let’s be honest. They’re who the studios hire when they can’t think of anyone better to hire. They’re very familiar, very famous placeholders, and one of their names is at least attached at some point to 60 percent of all leading female roles.
Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep get a pass because they’re magnificent, even if only one of them is a terrific actress. And where is Natalie Portman? Given the number of films she appeared in over the last year, she must have worked for scale to fall under the $10 million mark. There are a few actresses poised to enter the list in years coming: Jennifer Lawrence, Carey Mulligan, and maybe Mia Wasikowska, but I don’t see any of them, unfortunately, making Depp money anytime soon. The female-driven franchises (Hunger Games, Twilight) are given to young talent who don’t command huge salaries (or percentage points), and until we can figure out a way to put Meryl Streep to sell out for an amusement park franchise, the likes of Depp may continue to out-earn the combined salaries of the top 10 actresses.