Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, the director and star, respectively, of the new comedy Western "The Lone Ranger," have made four live-action movies together, a partnership that has stirred up close to $3 billion in global box office receipts.
Yet as the two very likely collaborators (they both hail from the South, are a year apart in age and dabble in music) have worked in tandem, they've seen an unusual pattern: Their grosses have by and large increased even as the critical reception to their films has continued to dip.
"The Lone Ranger" seems to be the nadir of their partnership critically. With only a 19% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the duo's collaboration has been faulted for its length (150 minutes), tonal dissonance and excess both visually and narratively. (It's also proved to be one of the most expensive movies the two have produced, besting even the gigantic budgets dedicated to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels.)
It's a far cry from the duo's early days. Verbinski and Depp originally came together for the 2003 release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl," a venture that was generally embraced by critics, who gave it a 79% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based primarily on the quirky, imaginative performance by Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Originally scoffed at by the industry, it became a hit to the tune of $654 million worldwide.