Disney loves itself some Johnny Depp, and with good reason. He’s responsible for the company’s Pirates of the Caribbean series having grossed over $3.5 billion at the worldwide box office; his involvement with Alice in Wonderland helped that pic land another $1 billion in theaters around the globe; and Depp will be headlining the Mouse House’s upcoming Lone Ranger movie (and almost certainly a fifth Pirates flick) in the future.
So while it’s not shocking to hear that Disney and Depp are teaming up on a pair of new projects (both are potential starring vehicles for the actor), the films themselves make for a weird mix: A big screen treatment of The Night Stalker and a dramatization of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride.
Deadline says that Depp will co-produce both ventures through his Infinitum Nihil company, which is also actively developing the comic book adaptation, Rex Mundi. Obviously, Depp can’t star in all of these projects, but that doesn’t mean studio heads won’t encourage him to try.
The project about Paul Revere’s dash from Charlestown to Lexington at the beginning of the American Revolutionary war has already landed a pair of screenwriters, in the form of Janet and Lee Butchler (Batman Forver). It will presumably not be based on any pre-established property.
Night Stalker, by comparison, was originally a 1972 TV movie about tabloid reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin), who encounters a sinister vampire in Las Vegas. The character was later given his own TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which ran from 1974-75 and pitted the oddball journalist against an array of supernatural creatures.
While Depp is still an undeniably talented and charming star of the screen, it’s difficult to muster as much enthusiasm about his next potential starring vehicle as it was before the Pirates of the Caribbean series began. Back then, he tended to employ his “Jack Sparrow shtick” (read: adapting strange mannerisms and a bizarre outfit) less often, and largely stuck to portraying a wider range of characters in independent projects that varied (from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape). Nowadays, it often feels like all Depp does is dress up and play weirdos, regardless of what film he’s in.
Night Stalker certainly sounds like a film right up Depp’s alley, but it also feels like a situation akin to when Disney was eying the actor to headline its Oz: The Great and Powerful – basically, it would be nice to see someone else given the opportunity to tackle the role of an eccentric professional in a studio production, besides Depp.
The role of Paul Revere would be a welcome change in pace for the actor, though it’s not quite clear what kind of historical tale the film as a whole would be. Are we talking a straight-faced drama about the American Revolution? Or something more along the lines of Roland Emmerich’s overblown action pic, The Patriot? Because there is a significant difference between the two.
It’s possible that, at the end of the day, Depp will be too busy with other projects to star in either of the aforementioned titles. Either way, feel free to let us know what you think about The Night Stalker and this new Paul Revere movie in the comments section below.