No amount of star power helped out Johnny Depp’s new movie “Transcendence” at the box office this weekend.
The sci-fi flick, about a scientist whose mind gets uploaded into an artificial intelligence as his life hangs in the balance, made just $11.2 million opening weekend.
It cost an estimated $US100 million to make.
Analysts had the Warner Bros. film making closer to $US20 million — still a weak number for a big-budget film.
Worldwide, the film has made $US28.6 million.
The problem isn’t Depp’s appeal just so much as the films themselves.
If this was another “Pirates of the Caribbean” feature, it would have fared fine. Those films have worldwide appeal. The last one made more than $US1 billion at theatres.
Like his previous few films, “Transcendence” was slammed with poor reviews prior to release and is currently sitting at 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.
One of the film’s problems was that it came from first-time director Wally Pfister — Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer in films including “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Inception.” Though “Transcendence” is a visual marvel, the plot gets muddled with one too many open-ended questions about clones, cell regeneration, artificial intelligence, and anti-technology terrorists.
If it focused on one or two ideas instead of trying to explore so many, it may have played out better.
The other main problem with “Transcendence” is its waste of huge talent.
From the way the film was marketed, audiences were under the impression stars Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy (from other Christopher Nolan films) would have large roles.
However, that wasn’t the case. Freeman and Murphy’s roles felt more like glorified extended cameos who showed up here and there to offer a line here or there.
Not even Depp, whose face covered ads for the film, was the real star of the film.
Instead Rebecca Hall, who you may recognise from a recent role in “Iron Man 3,” was the real focus of the film as Depp’s scientist wife. Though a fine actress, she’s not as recognisable as the other talent and makes the big-budget film a tough sell to audiences who may not remember her from 2006’s “The Prestige” or 2010’s “The Town.“
At the end of the day, no matter how great an actor Depp may be, and how visually stunning the film, if the script and story don’t work then the film’s not going to do well.
That’s what happened here.
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