After being greeted with a seven-minute standing ovation on opening night of the Cannes Film Festival, Johnny Depp’s comeback movie “Jeanne du Barry,” directed by Maiwenn, has charmed French audiences after debuting in cinemas.
The costume drama, which stars Depp as the French King Louis XV and marks his first leading role in three years, has been having a strong run at the French B.O., proving that the controversial star is still bankable. At least in France.
The film was widely released by Le Pacte on 650 screens and has grossed nearly $4.1 million from more than 550,000 tickets sold in two weeks, according to Comscore France. Currently playing across 800 screens, the film got mixed reviews in Cannes, but still has the potential of selling up to 850,000 tickets (an estimated $6.4 million), according to Eric Marti at Comscore France.
“‘Jeanne du Barry’ is doing the job, it’s a well polished film with good production values and it attracts a very large public,” Marti says, adding that “Johnny Depp is still popular in France. If he was ‘canceled,’ the film would probably be at 150,000 tickets sold.”
French audiences have always been enamored with Depp, who lived in the country for many years with Vanessa Paradis, a famous French actor and singer with whom he had two kids, including Lily-Rose Depp. Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and his other work has also been hugely successful in France. During his three-year hiatus, Depp was honored at festivals in Europe, notably at San Sebastian and Deauville. Even more telling than the critical recognition, Depp was also retained as Dior’s ambassador for the global ad campaign of his Sauvage fragrance since 2015, and was offered a massive $20 million deal to renew his contract.
Marti points out the performance of “‘Jeanne du Barry’ in France was respectable, particularly considering that the B.O. dropped by one-third over the last week due to the lack of new U.S. blockbuster as neither ‘Fast X’ nor ‘The Little Mermaid’ have proven to be smash hits in France so far.” But “Spider-Man : Across The Spider-Verse” could drive an upward trend, having sold 118 128 tickets in a day on May 31.
Le Pacte’s boss Jean Labadie, a veteran French producer-distributor who was one of the film’s first backers along with the sales banner Goodfellas (formerly Wild Bunch International), is even more enthusiastic than Marti, saying that “Jeanne du Barry” could garner up to one million admissions in French theaters.
“The fact that it world premiered on opening night at Cannes is a huge bonus in terms of exposure, and if you add that to the fact that it’s led by two glamorous stars – Maiween and Johnny Depp — it’s checks all the boxes, on top of being championed by all cinema chains across the country,” says Labadie. Another positive element, Labadie says, is that “Jeanne du Barry” is performing slightly better in multiplexes than in arthouse cinemas, and is working well outside of Paris.
“Jeanne du Barry” stars Maiwenn as Jeanne Vaubernier, a working class woman in 18th century France who rises the social ranks and becomes King Louis XV’s lover. Her working class roots make her a social pariah at the Versailles Palace. The movie’s acclaimed supporting cast includes Benjamin Lavernhe, Pierre Richard and Melvil Poupaud.
Over the last three years, Depp made headlines for his ongoing legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard which culminated in a defamation trial won by Depp in December.
The film’s promotion doesn’t appear to have been negatively impacted by a scandal involving Maiween who admitted to spitting on Edwy Plenel, the editor-in-chief of Mediapart magazine, while being interviewed on the talk show Quotidien on the eve of the film’s premiere. Like Depp, Maiween is also a popular figure in France. Her 2011 film “Polisse” won the jury prize at Cannes and sold over 2.3 million admissions, while her 2015 film “Mon Roi” won best actress for Emmanuelle Bercot and sold over 745, 483 admissions. Her previous film “DNA” had its theatrical run cut short in 2020 because of the closures of cinemas during the pandemic.
Goodfellas hasn’t yet closed a U.S. deal on “Jeanne du Barry” but it’s believed to be sold in many major territories. Le Pacte and Goodfellas helped finance “Jeanne du Barry” with the production house Why Not, as well as Netflix, which pre-bought second window rights for France only, French pubcaster France Televisions and Red Sea Film Foundation. The film was budgeted in the $22 million range and shot on location in France, including at Versailles.