Johnny Depp And Brad Pitt Take Risks: Gambling On Movies [Opinion]

Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are no longer just actors acting in films. Depp and Pitt are both producers as well, and therefore invest money in movies. Johnny and Brad invest in a lot of things, but movies are perhaps the riskiest, with the potential to either make or lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp both own their own production companies. Brad Pitt founded a movie production company called Plan B Entertainment in 2001. Johnny Depp founded his Infinitum Nihil in 2004. For Depp and Pitt movies can mean financial risks as well as potential profits.

Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment took part in producing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil was not involved. Even though Depp starred as Willy Wonka his company Infinitum Nihil was not one of the seven production companies involved in making the film according to IMDb.

Johnny Depp portrayed Willy Wonka while Brad Pitt wasn’t in the movie, but Brad Pitt’s Plan B shared in production. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a budget estimated at $150 million, back in 2005. The film grossed $474.96 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo.

Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil did take part in producing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Depp’s company was one of three production companies involved, Disney being another. That film had an estimated budget of $230 million and so far, the worldwide gross is $711.9 million and still counting, according to Box Office Mojo.

The three previous Pirates of the Caribbean movies grossed approximately $1 billion each on average. It is reportedly predicted that Dead Men Tell No Tales will eventually reach the $1 billion mark as well.

Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp’s ventures are not always profitable though. Johnny Depp believed that The Rum Diary would be a huge hit. Infinitum Nihil, GK Films, Film Engine, and Dark & Stormy Entertainment, produced The Rum Diary according to IMDb, at a cost of $45 million. Sadly, the film grossed less than $24 million according to Box Office Mojo.

Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt as movie producers are business owners. Sometimes they make huge profits, sometimes they have smaller profits, and sometimes they have losses. Then there are the cash flow problems that come with mid-production periods.

Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt’s production companies have a lot of expenses. Film companies like Infinitum Nihil and Plan B Entertainment hire production crews, actors, and extras. They build sets. They need equipment for filming and cameramen.

Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt don’t get paid for a movie until it is out in theaters. Instead, Brad and Johnny have to pay other people’s weekly salaries, buy equipment, and spend money for sets through Plan B and Infinitum Nihil. This amounts to millions of dollars. Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp both have hundreds of millions in assets, but having enough liquid assets can be a problem.

Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp also search for stories and hire writers to write scripts. They have to buy the rights to stories, usually in the form of books and screenplays.

Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment had to purchase the rights to World War Z by Max Brooks. Brad Pitt also must have purchased the rights to War Machine.

Johnny Depp, it was recently revealed, bought the entire archives of the well-known writer Nick Tosches according to The Mirror for only $1.2 million. The Mirror treated this purchase as if it were some sort of joke, saying Johnny “blew £1 million,” but archive purchases are quite common investments. Given the opportunity, Brad Pitt might have swooped up Tosches archives as well.

Brad Pitt is an icon
Brad Pitt is an iconic actor and movie producer [Image by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images]

Johnny Depp could have been buying the rights to Nick Tosches works and manuscripts as well as his correspondences and notes. It’s probably a goldmine, in terms of movie production possibilities and the potential publication of previously unpublished books, as well as a long-term investment for resale of the physical documents, as explained in New York Times Sunday Book Review.

“When writers die, their work lives on — and their papers go to Texas. Or Yale, Harvard, Emory, the New York Public Library, the British Library and other scholarly institutions that collect authors’ manuscripts and correspondence.”

Is this profitable for people like Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt? Well, according to The New York Times Sunday Book Review, that’s been the experience of Glen Horowitz who deals in archival purchases and sales.

“[Glenn Horowitz sold] the Watergate notebooks of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for an astounding $5 million in 2003.”

For Johnny Depp, brokering the sale of the author’s documents could be quite profitable eventually. Buying out an author’s archives also helps aging writers who may not live to see the highest value of their work, in their lifetime.

Johnny Depp also purchased Hunter S. Thompson’s archives which no doubt helped Hunter’s widow, and an author’s archives generally grow in value. Then there is the possibility of book publishing and movie making, which Depp actually did before with The Rum Diary, a book forgotten by Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny found the Rum Diary which had not been previously been published and had been lost, among Hunter’s many papers.

While smaller companies like Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil may or may not share equally in the risks with larger companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Paramount they can still either make or lose money on a venture. Contracts vary from one film to another on how profits and risks are distributed.

Brad Pitt’s company Plan B Entertainment recently sold War Machine to Netflix, with Netflix taking the risk of success or failure. That may happen sometimes, but it is not always the case.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow
Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow [Image by Jesse Grant/Getty Images]

Johnny Depp recently signed a “first look” contract with IM Global, who have signed on for the film Richard Says Goodbye. IM Global’s Stuart Ford is optimistic about venturing with Johnny Depp. Ford is quoted in Variety.

“[Johnny Depp] is, of course, a globally recognized superstar but, as importantly, we at IM Global love Infinitum Nihil’s idiosyncratic and taste-driven view of the movie-making world and the unique brand that Johnny, Christi and their team have developed. We’re building this relationship in order to generate great movies for the global audience with a like-minded creative partner.”

Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp make their money in many ways, not just acting. Brad Pitt sells wine and olive oil from his own vineyard. Johnny Depp is a professional musician as well as an actor, and both are involved in producing movies, which can be both profitable and expensive.


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Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp both have a vast array of perhaps unusual investments, but there is nothing unusual about their interest in potential profits.

[Featured Image by Jason Kempin and Larry Busacca/Getty Images]