Disney stumbled into a franchise back in 2003 when they released their ambitious movie based off of a theme park ride – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. To their credit, the movie is great, and a lot of that had to do with the inspired performance of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
They completed a trilogy in 2007. But Disney wanted more. So they made the forgettable Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Then last year they released the fifth (and at the time, final) chapter, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Times have changed for Disney. When Pirates became a franchise, they didn’t have Marvel, or Lucasfilm. They were also not turning all of their animated franchises into live action ones. The Mouse House is doing fine without Pirates, but according to Omega Underground, they still want more.
The website is reporting that Disney is in early stages of prepping the film, and want Joachim Ronning, who helmed the last chapter, to return after he completes his work on Malificent 2. Dead Men Tell No Tales writers Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, and Jeff Nathanson are all expected to return as well.
There are a few angles to this. One, Dead Men Tell No Tales put a bow on the franchise. It ended everyone’s story lines, and while it did have a post-credit tease, they wrapped up things quite completely. To undo that will take a lot, and I don’t know how much more of them randomly changing the canon I can take. (The origin of the compass in Dead Men Tell No Tales completely contradicts the earlier films. There was no reason for it, other than lazy incompetence from somebody in the franchise.)
Secondly, they killed one of the best and most compelling characters of the franchise – Geoffrey Rush’s Hector Barbossa. Sure, we thought he was dead before and he came back, but this time it felt more final. Barbossa was my favorite character, and I am not sure I want to see another Pirates movie without him.
The elephant in the room of course, is Depp. Depp has had some nasty allegations posited against him. It begs the question why Disney is still in the Depp business, when they are no longer in the James Gunn business. A little consistency in either direction would be nice. “If you stand for nothing…what will you fall for?”
The Fantastic Beasts franchise is getting similar backlash right now due to Depp’s involvement. For Disney, it would be much more magnified.
I liked this franchise. I love the first film, and can defend many aspects of the second and third ones. But after that, the Pirates franchise became its own worst enemy.
There is definitely a world where you can a Pirates movie without Depp, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Jerry Bruckheimer, who has produced all 5 movies to date, had this to say to Digital Spy back in May of 2017:
“I just don’t see it. The secret to any successful franchise is picking talented people, and Johnny is absolutely key to the success of Pirates. He’s such a unique character, such an endearing character, and such an irreverent character all in one.”
Bruckheimer is right to a certain extent. Those movies stand out because of Depp. But, the character has become a parody of himself. In the last movie, it looked like they plucked Depp out of a pickled hibernation, slapped some makeup on him, showed him the first Pirates movie and said “Do and impression of that”. Saying he phoned in the performance is an insult to phones. It was actually kind of sad to see.
Which begs the question….why? I guess the answer is: Because it will make money. That is true, it will. But, is it worth the profit? Depp could probably demand a huge Robert Downey Jr.-esque salary. Plus the Pirates movies are always special effects heavy, which is expensive. The franchise has seen diminishing returns as of late. A lot has changed since 2003. It is a franchise that they don’t need now.
“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.” Resurrecting the Pirates franchise may be more trouble than it is worth. After all, “dead men tell no tales”. Maybe it’s best to heed their own advice.
But what do I know? Would you like to see a 6th Pirates film starring Johnny Depp?
Source: Omega Underground