We recently reported on the news that Disney Chairman Dick Cook had stepped down from his position at the company after many years, with the rumors for his departure ranging from voluntary to forced out by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who may have been unhappy with Cook’s (and the company’s) box office performance as of late. Whatever the reason, Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp has expressed his dissatisfaction and disappointment at the news, with it putting a damper on his enthusiasm for Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides.

Depp’s starring in Pirates 4 was brought into question, which led to further questions asking if there will even BE a Pirates 4 if Depp isn’t in it. Well, recently word (that, for some reason, flew under our radar around these parts) has been floating around by way of an exclusive tip over at Cinemablend that even if Depp DOES come back for a fourth Pirates movie, it’ll be his last, meaning he won’t stick around for Pirates 5 or 6.

UPDATE: Apparently Disney has promised that Depp will be back for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Head here for details.

There’s been rumors going around that Pirates 4 is being planned to kick off a new trilogy, which probably means they have some sort of plan for what they want to do with 5 and 6. And I bet you those plans (even if they’re only plans, or even ideas at the moment) included Depp as Captain Jack. They’re probably already in the midst of drawing up a hefty check to pay Depp’s fee for doing Pirates 4, but beyond that, going by Cinemablend‘s tip, they’ll have to pay him even MORE if he’s to do more installments after that.

So let’s just imagine for a minute that Pirates 4 is Depp’s last time playing Captain Jack Sparrow – what would that mean for the character and the franchise? I think if Depp turned his sights elsewhere (and let’s face it, he’ll get work no matter what), Disney would have a serious problem on their hands. Would they recast Captain Jack? I don’t think fans of the series would have any of that, as I think you’ll agree the essence of the character is brought to the table by Depp. Will they not include Captain Jack and bring in a new character that’ll hopefully capture the hearts of the Pirates franchise’s avid fans (something Cinemablend‘s tip hints at)? I really don’t think the fans would have any of THAT, either.

What would Pirates of the Caribbean be without Johnny Depp?

Looking at the extreme case scenario – will there even BE a Pirates 5 and 6 if Depp isn’t in the picture? I think Disney would have a go at trying to make it work, and I think people would still end up seeing them because, hey, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the biggest (read: most profitable) film franchises around. Having said that, Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is the absolute draw of the franchise, and it would be SORELY lacking without him. To be honest, I wouldn’t care one iota about a Pirates of the Caribbean if he wasn’t in it. I’m sorry, but he’s about the only thing that kept me interested throughout the messes that were Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Unless the On Stranger Tides rumored director, Rob Marshall, stays on for 5 and 6 and turns them into the Citizen Kanes of pirate movies, I won’t be interested when the time comes.

What’s your opinion on Depp’s uncertain Pirates of the Caribbean future? Do you think he’ll come back for Pirates 4 and then 5 and 6 after that? If he didn’t, what do you think Disney would do with the character and the franchise?

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is supposed to start filming next Spring, and has a general release date of Summer 2011.

Source: Cinemablend