Recently it was revealed that Margot Robbie’s Pirates of the Caribbean spin off wasn’t moving forward. It seemed to be another sign that Disney doesn’t really know what it wants to do with what was once arguably their biggest franchise.
Part of the reason for this could be because the success of the original Pirates of the Caribbean from 2003, in retrospect, feels like lightning captured in a bottle. Before its release, many people predicted the movie would fail. Director Gore Verbinski had never made a movie of that size, the pirate genre was considered to have long been dead, and Johnny Depp at the time was known more for smaller quirky films. He wasn’t considered a blockbuster leading man.
But despite all odds the movie turned out to be a huge success. Grossing $654 million worldwide and even earning Depp an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Jack Sparrow – a character who would become a pop culture icon. Naturally, wanting to build off it’s success Disney quickly fast-tracked two sequels which were shot back to back. Dead Man’s Chest released in 2006 and At World’s End released the following year.
Two other sequels would be released over the next decade. On Stranger Tides was released in 2011 and Dead Man Tell No Tales in 2017 respectively. While they each garnered impressive box office numbers, they also received a bit more mixed acclaim.
Now, when you look at the franchise as a whole it seems to be a case of diminishing returns. No film in the series was ever as well received as the original critically. In fact, when you go on a site like Rotten Tomatoes the reception gets more negative with every film.
Also, while Dead Man’s Chest and On Stranger Tides both grossed 1 billion dollars worldwide, and it seemed as if there was interest in more films, the last entry to hit theaters, Dead Man Tell No Tales, would go on to be the worst reviewed film in the series and the lowest grossing film domestically.
It just seems like the franchise has never really been able to recapture the magic of the original. That, combined with the personal problems in Depp’s life that didn’t paint him in a good light to the public.
Although Johnny Depp did win in his defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard earlier this year, it still feels like major studios are still hesitant to take a risk with him. As if his future as a star wasn’t already complicated, Depp has made it abundantly clear that he would not want to return to the Pirates franchise or work with Disney because of how badly the studio treated him when Heard’s allegations first became public.
Because the studio has lost its star and it seemingly hasn’t been able to figure out what to do with this franchise, I believe that it is 100% ready to take to Disney+. You might recall a few months ago that we shared a Rumor of the Week on The DisInsider Show about a potential Pirates of the Caribbean series in the works at Disney+. And I am just here to say that it makes the most sense, especially considering how far the franchise has fallen from grace.
Disney+ has become a space where some of the studios biggest franchises have been allowed to experiment a little and try new things. Most recently we’ve seen that withWerewolf by Night, Andor, and even Willow! This could be a time to start over and try something fresh with Pirates to give it some new life.
One thing that probably won’t happen at least not for a while is a new actor playing Jack Sparrow. Despite the problems people have with Depp his performance as that character is one that is almost impossible to replicate. Even Depp himself was criticized as not really being able repeat that energy by the end of his run. One way of getting around that maybe could be going animated and just have a voice actor do an impression. Or you could do something like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles where you focus on a really young version of the character.
But there’s also the possibility of doing an entire reboot and disassociating from Jack Sparrow altogether. If that’s too hard for Disney, maybe they could do a prequel of his father who was portrayed by Keith Richards in the film. Richards himself served as an inspiration for Depp’s performance originally. It would also be interesting to see a series focused on some of the series’ other major characters like Davy Jones, Barbossa, or even Bootstrap Bill.
Personally, the best option to me might be what it seems they wanted to do with Robbie. Just make something focused on new characters. To use Andor as an example again, it is possible to make an installment of a big franchise without its iconic characters and still make it compelling. It all comes down to the writers and directors you assemble for the project.
It may be a while before we know for sure what’s next for the series, but until then these are just my personal pitches for what I think could work best.
Where would you like to see the franchise go next? Sound off below!