If Johnny Depp wants to keep up with his contemporaries such as Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, he’s going to have to step up his producing game. On Tuesday, Depp took the first step in doing just that, as his production company Infinitum Nihil has signed a first-look deal with Stuart Ford’s IM Global. Could Depp possibly be trying to rehab his image from behind the camera? It wouldn’t be such a bad strategy.
Depp will run Infinitum Nihil with his longtime producing partner (and sister) Christi Dembrowski, as well as Sam Sakar and Stephen Deuters. It wasn’t too long ago that I remember writing about the company every other month (remember all those Night Stalker and Thin Man announcements?), whether it was acquiring some cool book, or attaching some cool director to some cool project. But Infinitum Nihil has been quiet lately compared to companies like Pitt’s Plan B (Moonlight), Damon and Affleck’s Pearl Street (Manchester by the Sea), Clooney’s Smokehouse (Argo) and DiCaprio’s Appian Way (The Revenant), which have thrived in the producing space.
Once thought of as vanity deals meant to keep A-list stars happy, those production companies have developed a reputation for having an eye for material. Perhaps more importantly, notice how all of those companies are producing movies that don’t necessarily star their A-list principals. Yes, I’m aware that DiCaprio starred in The Revenant, but Appian Way has also produced Out of the Furnace and The Ides of March in the recent years.
Indeed, Infinitum Nihil’s most acclaimed movie thus far has been Hugo, which of course, didn’t feature Depp himself. Perhaps he can do the most good by putting down the wig and the eyeliner and simply focusing on telling the best possible stories, even if they don’t have a natural role for him.
While Depp is still a fixture in studio movies, with WB’s Fantastic Beasts sequel and Fox’s intriguing Murder on the Orient Express remake on the horizon, his true drawing power may reside overseas, which is why you have to give a foreign sales company like IM Global major credit for locking down a star like Depp. After all, Depp has access to strong material thanks to his new-ish reps at CAA, who may even feel like they have something to prove for their latest star client.
IM Global first linked up with Infinitum Nihil last year on a music-driven TV series about the legendary recording studio Muscle Shoals. More recently, Depp signed on to star in the company’s new movie Richard Says Goodbye, which starts shooting this summer. IM Global’s Ford credited Infinitum Nihil’s “idiosyncratic and taste-driven view of the movie-making world” in a statement about the first-look deal.
Depp hasn’t engendered much goodwill from this movie fan of late, but here’s hoping to a return to form when he plays LAPD Detective Russell Poole in the Tupac-Biggie murder mystery LAbyrinth. I’m pretty sure that one doesn’t have any franchise potential, thankfully.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief