Johnny Depp’s name, in and around Hollywood, has had something of a toxic tint to it over the short term considering how his much-publicized divorce from Amber Heard played out in the media. It started with tabloid allegations, went to trial over defamation, and when it was all said and done, got him fired from two upcoming movies. But that might not be the end of the line in the business for the actor. Recent word has him possibly coming back for a much-anticipated Tim Burton sequel, Beetlejuice 2.
1988’s Beetlejuice was Tim Burton’s second major movie (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure came first) and came out two years before he started collaborating with Johnny Depp. The dark comedy played on the themes of haunted houses and when the afterlife goes terribly and totally wrong. It was a hit, gaining both mainstream and cult status and cemented Burton’s place in the weird and sublime.
More than 32 years later we still don’t have a sequel. Even as recently as last year, Burton had been mum about any word of the film getting a second treatment. He seemed pessimistic about it ever coming together, even saying he “doubted” anything would come of it. Johnny Depp finding himself rumored to take part in the movie amounts to quite the surprise for reasons beyond his own legal trouble.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have a longstanding and (mostly) successful relationship when it comes to movies. This shared history might be one reason the director is willing to consider Depp in an upcoming film in spite of the latter’s recent woes. Through the years they’ve worked together on a total of eight films. Starting with Edward Scissorhands, with Depp starring as the titular character, they then went on to make Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows.
Dark Shadows was a critical bust at 36% on the Tomatometer but did *scrape by* with $250 million in box office sales on a $150 million dollar budget. It was considered something of a flop and seemed to spell the end of their working relationship. It’s been almost a decade since that last film, but the two were for a time almost synonymous with each other in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, the legal issues surrounding Johnny Depp are casting a cloud over the actor’s future. Over the summer, Depp was embroiled in a defamation lawsuit against The Sun, a British tabloid. He claimed the (sometimes sensational) paper had overstepped their bounds and committed libel when they referred to him as a “wife-beater” in his previous marriage to Amber Heard.
In the court proceedings, The Sun’s defense team outlined a string of rather disturbing incidents with Depp during his marriage. These included but weren’t limited to, physical abuse, mental abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, verbal abuse. Really just kind of everything terrible. In the end, the court ruled that The Sun, in light of the evidence, had not printed their words out of turn.
After the case was closed, it didn’t take long for Hollywood to start distancing itself from the actor. He was promptly fired from the Pirates of the Caribbean remake in which he was going to cameo as his Jack Sparrow character. Warner Bros then made even bigger news when they let him go from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That movie, currently filming, represented a major blow for Depp.
All of these legal issues and general toxicity are what make it even more surprising that Johnny Depp would be so quickly linked to another movie, even if it was with old pal Tim Burton. It’s worth mentioning that the original report merely nods to the idea of a Beetlejuice remake while leaving the door open for the two to be discussing collaboration on a number of different projects. It could also be a well-timed leak to get Depp a win in the media column. Those have certainly been lacking in recent months.
If there was anyone who would welcome Johnny Depp back on to the screen, it would probably have to be Tim Burton. It’s difficult to see any other director or studio taking a chance on the actor right now. But the two have a dark comedy history and their movies have been so twisted that maybe the relationship will work in spite of the other ongoing trials and tribulations.