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Disney could save $90 million on next Pirates movie by setting Depp adrift

After years of sailing the high seas and plundering our wallets, amassing billions in treasure across five movies, Disney is finally sailing their PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise into new waters with a big-budget reboot due…whenever the hell they figure that out. We don’t know much about the project, but we do know one thing: Disney has apparently not asked series leader Johnny Depp to return as the Keith Richards-lookalike swashbuckler, Jack Sparrow. The House of Mouse is probably thinking it’s best to sail on without him for several reasons, and according to a new report one reason could be that it will reduce their budget by a mountain of doubloons.

A new report from Forbes detailed how by cutting Depp and his Sparrow character loose from the series it could save Disney as much as $90 million in production costs, which is reportedly what Depp was getting by the end of the current five-movie run. This may seem like an astronomical amount to give any actor for playing a 19th-century version of a surly rock star, but Depp’s performance as Sparrow was key to making the first movie, and the subsequent entries, the box office smashes they were. Though there’s other stuff to love about the movies, it’s hard to imagine a series about pirates making billions around the world without a charismatic star in the lead.

However, even with Depp’s insane costs, the last movie (DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES) proved diminishing returns were in effect, with the final domestic gross being $172 million, a far cry from the series high of over $420 million with the second PIRATES movie (DEAD MAN’S CHEST). The movie fared better worldwide, making $794 million, but that was down from the $1.045 billion of the fourth movie (ON STRANGER TIDES). While the 2017 fifth movie likely netted Disney a profit, it didn’t take them long to realize a sixth movie may not, so last year it was announced the series was being retooled by DEADPOOL scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who are tasked with giving the series a “kick in the pants,” according to Sean Bailey, President of Production at Disney.

Furthermore, one reason to be believed for cutting ties with Depp, beyond the money, involves the overall quality of the movies. Sure, Depp’s rum-drinking, quip-cracking Sparrow has always been a leading figure in the movies, but in the original trilogy, he shared the screen with the likes of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, a romantic pairing whose story was a thing all their own. With them gone, writers have been having to focus the story on Sparrow, resulting in less-than-compelling narratives, and thus lesser quality. The article mentions the work for writer Jeff Nathanson on DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, having to work closely with Depp so as to include plenty of good bits for his character. Of course, if Disney is paying almost $100 million for its star, you can bet they want to get their money’s worth.

Should Disney make Sparrow officially walk the blank and bring in a whole new cast, it would go a long way in making the series seem fresh and headed in a new direction, but only time will tell if it will really prove financially viable. Depp may not be as guaranteed a box office smash as he once was, but there’s no doubt he’s been the key factor in the other PIRATES movies. To compensate they’ll need a big star (or stars) to get people excited, and that will not come cheap. Perhaps the only way to really make a cost-effective reboot is cut down on the CGI, go a bit smaller, and, yes, make Depp walk the blank. If he does, then we should pour out a shot of rum for the wacky pirate, a character who may have worn his welcome, but who was always...something.

Source: Forbes

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