The Pirates of the Caribbean films may have declined in the eyes of critics and audiences since the first movie made pirates cool again, but that hasn't affected the money-making power of Disney's powerhouse pirate adventure franchise. The most recent entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, passed the $1 billion mark at the global box office and the next chapter is set to begin filming early next year.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides attempted to keep the formula of the previous movies alive by finding a new attractive-but-naive young couple to fill the space left behind by Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. Sam Claflin and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey won't (as far as we know) be back for the next adventure, which means that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales needs two more young actors to fill the romance subplot.
The Giver star Brenton Thwaites has already been cast to fill one half of this pairing, as a British soldier who teams up with Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, and now Variety has revealed a shortlist of young actresses who are about to be tested for the lead female role, which will almost certainly be a love interest for Thwaites' character.
The five named actresses are all relative newcomers in their early-to-mid twenties: Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner), Jenna Thiam (The Returned), Gabriella Wilde (Endless Love), Lucy Boynton (Copperhead) and Alexandra Dowling (The Musketeers).
The report also claims that Javier Bardem is now onboard (he was previously said to be in talks) to play the villain, who is rumored to be a vengeful ghost. The screenplay for the film was penned by Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) and Norwegian filmmaking duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) have been hired to direct.
Apparently the studio made sure to secure the male lead first so that the choice of female lead could be based on "chemistry tests" with Thwaites, which only reinforces the likelihood of the two characters representing the romantic angle of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Disney could be criticized for this box-ticking approach to making sequels, but it's hard to deny that the approach has been successful so far.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in U.S. theaters on July 7th, 2017.
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