Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Disney's most popular, and profitable, live-action franchises. While the fifth movie in the series didn't light up the domestic box office the way previous films did, the movie still made nearly $800 million globally, and that's not the sort of money you would ever expect Disney to just forget about. However, in the years since the last film, while there has been a lot of movement on a new movie, it has all led to very little when it comes to actual productions, and a lot more when it comes to confusion.
There's been so much going on behind the scenes that it's easy to get lost in it all and become confused about what the status of these movies really is, so we're going to bring together everything we know in one place. Will there be a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie? Will it include Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow? Some of these questions have clear answers, others not so much, but here are all the details we have.
The Future of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
The biggest question about the future of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is also the question about Johnny Depp's future with it. Since he introduced Captain Jack Sparrow to the world, the character and the film series have been one and the same. While Captain Jack is rarely the man the Pirates of the Caribbean film is actually about, he's a huge part of the story, and for many people, a Pirates movie without Jack just wouldn't be a Pirates movie.
If you're one of those people, then it may be time to say goodbye to the franchise as a whole. Whether or not there will actually be Disney movies called Pirates of the Caribbean or not, the one thing that we know for sure, at least right now, is that Johnny Depp won't be in them if and when they happen. The fact that Depp has lost his job as Jack Sparrow is actually at the center of one of the legal battles between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
It seems that more or less, from the moment Disney started using the word "reboot" to describe the future plans for the franchise, Johnny Depp was out. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer reportedly was campaigning to get Depp a cameo role in the next Pirates movie, but Disney has supposedly balked at that idea, so that means we won't see Sparrow even in a small role to pass the torch to whoever becomes the new franchise lead. The story of Captain Jack Sparrow may be over, but the franchise is still moving forward.
The Pirates Reboot Saga
So if we're not getting the "further adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow," then just what are we actually going to get if and when a movie arrives? Back in October 2018, it was first revealed that Disney was looking to reboot the franchise with Deadpool writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese on board to write the story. Unfortunately, it was only a few months later that those writers left the project, apparently unable to crack the nut of the Pirates reboot to everybody's satisfaction.
Then in October of 2019, we were told that the writing duo of Ted Elliot, who co-wrote the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and Craig Mazin of Chernobyl fame were being brought in to take over script-writing duties. This pairing certainly makes a lot of sense. There's one writer who knows the franchise well to anchor it and make sure that fans get a movie that still feels like the rest of the franchise, and one writer who has never been part of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and can therefore bring in a fresh perspective.
As far as we know, these two are still at work on a script, but we've heard very little about the film beyond that. With the confirmation that Jack Sparrow won't be making an appearance, the question then becomes, will the new movie that's being written still take place in the same version of the Caribbean, i.e. one where Captain Jack exists (or will exist, or did exist), or will it be something 100% new that uses the name Pirates of the Caribbean, but is beyond that entirely fresh?
Some rumors have indicated that Redd, a female pirate who was added to the theme park attraction a few years back, could be the new lead character, and Karen Gillan has even been rumored as a potential actress to play the part, but nothing has been confirmed. But if you're saying to yourself, "Wait a minute, I thought a different actress was going to be in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie!", that's where some of the confusion comes in.
Margot Robbie's Pirates Movie
In the summer of 2020, it was reported that a Pirates of the Caribbean movie was in the works that would star Margot Robbie and be written by Birds of Prey scribe Christina Hodson. While Disney has never confirmed that this movie is happening, Margot Robbie has seemingly confirmed the concept, while admitting it's too early to talk openly about it.
But the initial report of this Pirates of the Caribbean movie was careful to draw a distinction between this one and the film being written by Ted Elliott and Craig Mazin. These are two distinct Pirates of the Caribbean films being developed simultaneously. Beyond that, we don't really know what the plan is. Is one of these movies essentially Pirates of the Caribbean 6 in everything but name, and the other some sort of spinoff? Or are they both something different and separated from the world of Captain Jack Sparrow? That's the part where things get murky once again.
Even without Johnny Depp appearing in any further films, that's not to say that one or both of these movies couldn't still take place in the same movie universe. Other characters could still reprise roles from earlier films. Alternatively, these two movies could take place in the same universe together, that's something entirely new. At the end of the day, as long as the movie has pirates and takes place on the Caribbean, there isn't a lot else that's strictly necessary to make the movie work.