There may only be one Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy… but that could change. Indeed, while it was only a matter of months ago that Disney began floating production ideas for a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean movie starring Johnny Depp in his signature role of Jack Sparrow, now comes news out of Deadline that Disney has met with writers Rheet Reese and Paul Wernick about doing a potential reboot of the franchise which has to date grossed over $4.5 billion, including almost $800 million for the most recent effort from last year, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
This is a surprise, because while it appears too early to suggest they would recast Depp (or simply not include Jack Sparrow in a reboot), the writing is on the wall that they’re at least strongly considering it. It should be noted that the 2017 movie was not warmly received, including by us, and was the lowest grossing Pirates movie since the 2003 original. While it still made a mint, the previous 2011 film made $1.07 billion worldwide on also mixed reviews. This coupled with Depp’s rising price tag and diminished popularity would make it conceivable Disney would look at its options for one of its most profitable franchises, especially from the likes of Reese and Wernick who are the writers of the even more irreverent and box office-friendly Deadpool franchise (they also wrote the original Zombieland and its forthcoming sequel for next year).
Nevertheless, this is a bit of a surprise, and not just because Dead Men Tell No Tales ended with a setup for Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann and Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner to return for a major role after leaving the franchise for little more than a cameo since 2007’s At World’s End. The entire franchise was built around Depp’s unusual but rather brilliant character actor creation, one that some Disney executives in 2002 and ’03 were livid about, complaining that he was ruining their swashbuckling movie.
Now it seems the franchise Depp essentially made might outlive him (or his career), because Disney has a brand in need of polishing. Whether audiences want to sail those waters without a familiar captain though is a still an open, and intriguing, question.