The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise - based on Disney's popular theme park ride - took the seas by storm in 2003 with the first film in the series, The Curse of the Black Pearl, which became a box office success to the tune of $654 million worldwide; it also made Johnny Depp a bankable star. Almost eleven years later, three more films have since been released, and a new Pirates-themed "land" is expected to open at Shanghai Disneyland Resort in late 2015.
To many, Pirates of the Caribbean is still a white-hot property, yet there has been little word about another film since On Stranger Tides (which made over a billion dollars at the box office) was released back in 2011. Last year, it was announced that the next film in the series would be tentatively called Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg were expected to helm. A new release date of sometime in 2016 was also proposed, moving the film away from the extra busy summer of 2015.
Now the latest news comes from today's company shareholder and D23 member meeting in Portland, Oregon, where Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced that the fifth film in the lucrative franchise has not actually been given a greenlight at the studio yet, leaving the Pirates of the Caribbean series in an uncertain state of limbo.
While 2016 is still two years away and there's plenty of time to greenlight the film, it does appear Walt Disney Pictures is perhaps reconsidering and going back on their original plans, maybe in light of their debacle with last year's The Lone Ranger.
Starring Depp as an eccentric character and also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Films, The Lone Ranger ended up costing the company around $190 million and may have already been responsible for a Dead Men Tell No Tales loss of budget and final cut privileges. In fact, directors Ronning and Sandberg were specifically chosen because of their ability to work under a limited budget in the Oscar-nominated film Kon-Tiki.
The recent potential plot details for Pirates 5, which feature a whole new set of characters alongside Depp, also might not seem very encouraging to a studio that has already lost a lot of money while banking on the same lead actor. Then again, maybe it was The Lone Ranger itself that didn't offer up a big enough draw to audiences, and a new Pirates of the Caribbean film could have a very different result at the box office.
Would you still be interested in a new Pirates of the Caribbean starring Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow? Or do you think the franchise's ship has already sailed?
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is tentatively scheduled for Summer 2016.