It seems Disney is still developing Pirates of the Caribbean 6 and plans to bring Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning back to helm the sequel. The latter is currently filming Maleficent II for the Mouse House, so production on Pirates 6 might not start until after that live-action fairy tale hits theaters in 2020.
Starting with The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003, the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride-turned swashbuckling adventure series has grossed over $4.5 billion worldwide over five movies. However, despite its own hefty $795 million global take, 2017's Dead Men Tell No Tales marked a new low point for the franchise, both at the U.S. box office and in terms of critical reception. At the same time, the sequel kept things moving forward by setting up a sixth Pirates film that would focus largely on the new additions from Dead Men Tell No Tales; namely, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner (the son of Black Pearl's leads Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann) and Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, who the fifth Pirates film revealed is really Captain Barbossa's daughter.
According to GWW's sources, Dead Men Tell No Tales writers Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio are working on a script for Pirates of the Caribbean 6, along with Rossio's longtime writing partner Ted Elliott. Reportedly, the plan is for Rønning (who co-directed Dead Men Tell No Tales with Espen Sandberg) to return at the helm, shortly after he finishes shooting the Maleficent sequel. If accurate, that could result in a 4-5 year break or longer between the fifth and sixth Pirates installments, which would still be shorter than the six year break between Dead Men Tell No Tales and its predecessor, 2011's On Stranger Tides.
In addition to revealing the truth about Carina's father and reuniting Will with Elizabeth, Dead Men Tells No Tales ends with a post-credits scenes that hints at the return of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and At World's End villain Davy Jones. Bill Nighy, who plays the infamous pirate with the tentacle beard, has said he would "love" to return for Pirates 6, but also admitted he didn't even know about Dead Men's credits teaser until a fan mentioned it to him. As such, there may not be a firm plan in place to bring Jones back, much less one for where to take the larger franchise from here.
There's also the Johnny Depp-sized elephant in the room that needs addressing. Depp's Jack Sparrow character was a big part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise's initial success, but the actor is arguably more of a liability than an asset, at this point in time. In addition to the domestic abuse allegations from his ex-wife Amber Heard, the number of reports about Depp's erratic behavior on his films' sets has been growing in recent years. The actor was even slapped with a lawsuit last month for allegedly assaulting the location manager on his upcoming crime drama, City of Lies.
A Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Depp might have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but now it feels like the responsible thing to do from a business perspective. It could also prove to be the dramatic move that reinvigorates the property creatively and helps to reverse its downward trend at the box office after Dead Men Tell No Tales. As with everything else Pirates of the Caribbean 6-related, of course, we will bring you more details on that front when we have them.