Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are no longer working on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movie reboot. Inspired by the Disney theme park attraction of the same name, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was the Mouse House's golden goose back in the 2000s. After the first movie (2003's The Curse of the Black Pearl) became a surprise smash hit, Disney went all in and ordered back-to-back sequels. While those films (2006's Dead Man's Chest and 2007's At World's End) earned mixed reviews, they also brought in more than $2 billion at the global box office between them.
Since then, however, the property has lost some of its luster. The fourth movie, On Stranger Tides, hit theaters in 2011 and took in another billion worldwide, but earned the coolest reception for a Pirates adventure yet. Things only got worse with 2017's Dead Men Tell No Tales, which suffered a noticeable drop-off at the box office ($795 million global) against a hefty $230 million budget. In light of these diminishing returns, it's no surprise that Disney's set to work on a Pirates reboot to try and revitalize the IP. However, their efforts to do just that have hit a snag.
According to Deadline, Reese and Wernick - who were recruited to write the Pirates reboot last year - are no longer working on the project. It's not clear yet what Disney plans to do about the situation, either. Some of Deadline's sources claim that Disney's already begun searching for a replacement writer (or writers) on the reboot, while others suspect the Pirates of the Caribbean films will simply be put on hold altogether. A TV show has apparently been raised as another possibility, but Deadline says the idea is still in the "spitball discussions" stage.
Deadline's article doesn't offer an explanation for Reese and Wernick's departure, but it stands to reason the pair are simply too busy at the moment. The duo recently launched their YouTube series Wayne and presumably did some polish work on their script for Zombieland 2 (which opens in October) in the last few months. Further, the Deadpool 1 & 2 writers are still attached to write a Clue movie reboot and have apparently been swapping ideas about Deadpool 3 with Ryan Reynolds of late, despite the uncertainty around the sequel ahead of the Disney-Fox purchase. That's not even a comprehensive rundown of all the projects that Reese and Wernick have been developing of late, in addition to the Pirates reboot. This is to say, they might've just not had the time to devote to really cracking the story for a fresh take on the franchise and decided to step away from the project altogether.
As for what this means for the larger Pirates brand, well, that's another story. Johnny Depp's presumably done playing Jack Sparrow either way, seeing as his recent personal and professional scandals - coupled with his diminished box office draw - make it near-impossible for Disney to justify continuing to pay him $90 million a pop for the Pirates movies. More than that, the studio has plenty of cash cows for the time being, between its Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters, Star Wars movies, and live-action remakes of it animated films. As such, the Mouse House may elect to simply put the Pirates franchise on ice for a while, as they try and figure out what (if anything) to do with the IP next.
We'll bring you more Pirates of the Caribbean-related updates as they come our way.