Hans Zimmer wasn't on board with scoring Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl until he saw the first batch of footage. Zimmer is an iconic film composer who's scored major productions such as The Lion King and Gladiator. And he followed up his success with those movies by composing the theme song and soundtrack for Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean film in 2003, which helped launch Disney's most commercially successful live-action franchise outside Marvel and Star Wars.
The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie marked the Mouse House's first PG-13 film ever, and the fact that it became as critically and commercially successful was a huge surprise to those involved. It not only garnered an astonishing $654.3 million at the worldwide box office (a great sum of money for its time, especially for an original film) but it also snagged five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Johnny Depp, whose portrayal of Capt. Jack Sparrow has become fabled. But a great part of Pirates' success was Zimmer's score, which has been used in every Pirates film ever since. The thing is, Zimmer was one of the movie's original detractors. That is until he saw what Verbinski had on his hands.
In a profile interview with Vanity Fair, Hans Zimmer discussed some of his biggest film scores in his career, including The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. And while talking about Pirates of the Caribbean, he said he originally thought the film was a bad idea.
"Pirates was a complete accident. I was working with Gore [Verbinski] on something, and I said to him, 'So, what are you doing next?' He's going, 'Well, I'm thinking of doing this Pirates movie.' Okay, Pirates movie... really? Seriously? This is the worst idea I've ever heard. ...I got a phone call from Gore on a Sunday going, 'Come over, have a look at this thing.' He showed me a movie that I couldn't possibly have imagined. And I loved how wrong I was and how right he was."
Once Zimmer saw the Pirates footage, he immediately accepted the job (replacing Alan Silvestri, who exited the film due to creative differences with producer Jerry Bruckheimer) and went home to start writing the theme. After all, there wasn't much time from when he boarded the project to when the film was slated to release.
"There was very little time left by the time I got onto this. I was going, 'Okay, I better go home and write a theme.' I started at 7:30 in the evening - I'm just exploding with ideas, except I'm starting to be so tired. So, the playing gets worse and worse. And it's just like my fingers aren't moving properly anymore, now it's 5 o'clock in the morning. So, that's sort of how that movie came about.
Zimmer helped bring Disney's swashbuckling adventure to life with his music, which he composed alongside Klaus Badelt, who he worked with before on Ridley Scott's Gladiator. As previously mentioned, Zimmer's theme song has since been incorporated into each subsequent Pirates installment, including 2017's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, despite Geoff Zenelli scoring that film.
Source: Vanity Fair