Even if the box office has fallen and the critics have become dismissive, when you have a franchise of five films that have taken in $4.5 billion at the global box office, and you’re Walt Disney Pictures, you bet your arse you’re going to put a Pirates of the Caribbean reboot into development. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that Johnny Depp, who immortalized Captain Jack Sparrow, is going to be a part of it.
Stuart Beattie, one of the writers on the first Pirates of the Caribbean, told London’s DailyMailTV, “I think he’s had a great run. Obviously, he made that character his own and it’s become the thing that he’s most famous for now. It’s been great for him and it’s been great for us. [But] there’s that saying, ‘Don’t frown because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ The fact that they’re rebooting something that you did means that you did something that was worth rebooting. It’s an honor.”
It had previously been reported that Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the screenwriters behind Zombieland and those little art films known as the first two Deadpool movies, have begun exploring exactly how a Pirates of the Caribbean reboot will work. We do know that producer Jerry Bruckheimer will be overseeing everything, as he has from the beginning. Initially, there was no word as to whether Johnny would be involved. One school of thought is that the actor’s clout at the box office has diminished dramatically in recent years, while on another, if he should achieve acclaim for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (and the film is bigger than the first entry in that franchise), one could have easily seen him stepping back into his most famous role. Only time will tell now.
Dipping into our archives, Jerry Bruckheimer, in an exclusive interview, reveals how the project came about in the first place: “The script that Disney had given us originally was a good, straight-ahead pirate movie, which I felt wasn’t unique enough in the marketplace. I thought it would be perceived as another one of the kind of movies they had been making based on their theme park rides, like The Country Bears and Haunted Mansion. We brought in [screenwriters] Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott, and they said, ‘What if we make the pirates turn into skeletons in the moonlight and they want to return a treasure rather than steal a treasure?’ I thought that was unique. It was different, it was fresh.”
Terry reflects, “In 1992, after Ted and I worked on Aladdin, we went to the then Disney Studio management and said, ‘We’d love to do a supernatural pirate movie,’ but there’s not very much to hang that on. You can’t hang it on Treasure Island or something like Long John Silver, or even Blackbeard, which didn’t feel right. And in the public consciousness pirate landscape, one of the things that stood out to us was Pirates of the Caribbean. We thought, ‘Oh, we have this cool ride, use Pirates of the Caribbean as your title and do a supernatural pirate movie.’ And they said, ‘No.’ Ten years later, new management came to us and said, ‘We have this idea of doing a movie based on a ride.’ Again, I thought, ‘Of course, that’s a cool idea. Who’s not going to like that?’ Subsequent to that, I discovered that everybody else in the world, for whatever reason, thought it was evident of Hollywood being bereft of ideas. To us, it seemed obvious and cool.”
And it connected with the audience in a major way that defied all expectations. “The reason,” muses Jerry, “is the uniqueness of the Jack Sparrow character, and the theme. It was fresh and different. Every writer in the world was pounding on us, ‘How do you make a movie out of theme park ride? Haven’t you learned your lesson?’ I said, ‘Wait until you see it.'”
On paper, had you read a description of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack, it would be laughable. But somehow it works on screen. “He’s just such a unique actor, and he’s so good,” enthuses Jerry. “We really wanted him in the movie. I felt that you needed to bring the kind of edge that Johnny brings to it, because of his previous work that says this is not your typical PG or PG-13 movie. That this is going to be something fresh and different.”
One can only hope that the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot will be just as fresh and different.