Disney's film chief has confirmed the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot won't include Johnny Depp. The first movie in the series (2003's The Curse of the Black Pearl) was an unexpected critical and commercial success when it hit theaters, thanks in no small part to Depp's - eventually, Oscar-nominated - performance as the incorrigible scalawag Jack Sparrow. While Jack was a supporting character in the original film, he gradually evolved into a full-blown protagonist over the course of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels that followed.
Unfortunately, the critical and general audience response has gotten collectively worse with each passing Pirates movie, culminating with last year's poorly-received Dead Men Tell No Tales. That movie was also a box office disappointment (despite turning a profit), and has since spurred the Mouse House to set to work on a reboot of the property. However, it hasn't been clear if Depp's Jack Sparrow will participate in this passing of the torch or not... not until now, anyway.
Disney live-action film chief Sean Bailey confirmed the news during an interview with THR about the studio's upcoming slate of non-animated movie offerings. The conversation eventually turned to the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot, which is currently being scripted by Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Bailey confirmed that Depp's character isn't part of the project, explaining:
We want to bring in a new energy and vitality. I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that's what I've tasked them with.
For anyone who's kept up with Depp's career trajectory, this news shouldn't come as a surprise. The actor has been increasingly plagued by personal scandals in recent years, ranging from domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife Amber Heard to a lawsuit that resulted in his drama, City of Lies, being indefinitely shelved after Depp allegedly assaulted the film's location manager. Admittedly, Depp's draw power at the box office had started to diminish before those things happened, but these controversies have only sped things up. At this stage, putting Depp in your movie seems more likely to damage your film's commercial prospects than improve them (see also: what's happening with the Fantastic Beasts series).
Still, even if all that wasn't an issue, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have seemingly run out of interesting story ideas involving Jack Sparrow, and could do with a truly fresh start (if they're to continue at all, of course). Dead Men Tell No Tales was intended to soft reboot the franchise but, in the wake of the sequel's negative reception, a hard restart might be the smarter way to go now. Either way you cut it, Depp's Captain Sparrow appears to have sailed his final voyage.
We will bring you more details on the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot as they become available.