Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – the fifth installment in the Walt Disney Pictures ride-turned movie franchise – began shooting last month, putting it well ahead of schedule to make its July 2017 release date. Case in point: although star Johnny Depp is about to undergo surgery for a hand injury, the movie’s ongoing production is expected to be “minimally impacted” at most.

Depp is, of course, reprising as the incorrigible Captain Jack Sparrow in Dead Men Tell No Tales. Story-wise, this new Pirates installments follows characters such as Captain Jack and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) on a race to find a mythical artifact. The MacGuffin in question is the Trident of Poseidon, which allows its user to control the seas – something that Sparrow wants very much, as he and every other living pirate is being hunted by a gang of ghosts led by one Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem).

A spokesman for Disney confirmed to The Wrap that Depp is currently flying out from Australia – where filming on Dead Men Tell No Tales has been taking place – back to the United States, in order to undergo surgical repair work on his hand for an injury that he did not sustain on set during the tentpole’s production. The movie’s shooting schedule, as mentioned before, isn’t expected to be significantly delayed, so principal photography still ought to wrap up this summer as previously anticipated.

Meanwhile, it’s plausible Dead Men Tell No Tales director Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) will shift their filming plan around a bit, so they can work on material that doesn’t involve Depp in his absence; similar to what J.J. Abrams did last year during the Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens production when Harrison Ford was injured (more severely than Depp is, by the sound of it). Dead Men Tell No Tales costar Brenton Thwaites has, in the past, alluded to one such key story thread – one that may not involve the Sparrow character directly, at that.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales will introduce a number of new faces to the Pirates universe, as played by Thwaites (Maleficent) and Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner), among others. Meanwhile, this is the first Pirates feature not co-scripted by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio; instead, the screenplay was penned by Jeff Nathanson, whose also wrote Rush Hour 2 & 3 and co-wrote the Steven Spielberg films Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal (he got story credit for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).

The fourth Pirates installment, On Stranger Tides, grossed over $1 billion worldwide – for those wondering why a fifth movie is being made, in the face of diminishing good will for the franchise among critics and general filmgoers alike. Indeed, Pirates 5 and TRON 3 (which we only learned yesterday starts filming in the fall) are the rare live-action Disney brand tentpoles not based on the studio’s past animated features in the pipeline right now.

Of course, after several unsuccessful franchise-starters (Prince of Persia, John Carter, and The Lone Ranger) that proved to be costly failures, it’s not so surprising that the Mouse House is playing it safe for now, on that front. Not to mention, its ongoing role as distributor for all of Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm’s upcoming live-action features has certainly impact the company’s production slate.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in U.S. theaters on July 7th, 2017.

Source: The Wrap

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