The majority of critics seem to agree that from a creative standpoint, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has turned into a sinking ship. Nevertheless, the series remains an unrivaled cash cow for Walt Disney Pictures and they’re understandably anxious to see it carry on. In fact, they had a script for a fifth film in their hands before On Stranger Tides was even released.

The domestic box office gross for the latest entry might be lower than that of its predecessors, but the studio has little reason to worry that audiences are starting to grow impervious to the charms of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). To date, On Stranger Tides has amassed more than $472 million outside of the U.S. and is on track to earn close to $1 billion before it hits DVD and Blu-Ray. The foreign market has become increasingly important to Hollywood and with numbers like that, another voyage aboard the Black Pearl seems all but inevitable.

Of course, Depp recently expressed his desire to space out further Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and he already has his plate full with other projects – including Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation of the TV show Dark Shadows, a subversive re-imagining of the Lone Ranger,  and a remake of The Thin Man (which will reunite him with On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall).

Speaking of Marshall – he was offered the opportunity to helm Pirates of the Caribbean 5 back in January, but he has yet to formally accept or decline. Disney has evidently grown weary of the waiting game and according to Cinema Blend, they’ve started looking into some other options.

It sounds like the job is still Marshall’s if he decides he wants it, but Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Shawn Levy, Chris Weitz, and Alfonso Cuarón are now in the mix as well. CB‘s “most reliable source” has indicated that Burton is currently the top pick (and was also sought for On Stranger Tides before Marshall landed the gig, apparently) – but they theorize that even though he has a longstanding working relationship with Depp,  it’s extremely unlikely that he’d actually commit to the project.

So let’s take a look at the other contenders…

Levy’s resume, which includes films like Date Night, Night at the Museum, and the upcoming Real Steel, indicates that he would probably be a good match for Disney’s family-friendly sensibilities – but there were moments in the first three Pirates movies that seemed to be testing the limits of their PG-13 ratings. On Stranger Tides, on the other hand, seemed content to play it pretty safe. It never felt all that dangerous or inventive – so if they insist on pushing forward with a fifth film,  it would be a lot more encouraging to see them go with a director who’s not afraid to take some risks and shake things up. To be honest, Levy just doesn’t really seem like that type of filmmaker.

The same goes for Weitz, who started out his career co-directing hits like American Pie and About a Boy before moving on to big-budget fare like the ambitious misfire The Golden Compass and the second Twilight film, New Moon. He’s probably one of the most realistic options, but again – would he be capable of reinvigorating the Pirates series?

Like Burton, Raimi and Cuarón probably wouldn’t be interested – which is unfortunate, because they’re definitely the most intriguing names mentioned. They’ve both had experience working with tentpole franchises (Raimi with Spider-Man and Cuarón with Harry Potter), but it’s difficult to imagine either of them grabbing the reins on something with so much mileage.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer previously revealed that further sequels would continue to act as standalone stories. That still seems like the best strategy, but if On Stranger Tides proved anything it’s that the Pirates of the Caribbean films really need a director with a strong and unique vision calling the shots.

Source: Cinema Blend.