Disney is in fairly good shape when it comes to tentpole films, as the studio is now in charge of both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm - both of which have full slates of potentially lucrative projects sure to keep the cash flowing in for the next handful of years. Even though Tony Stark and Luke Skywalker will be making hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) for the studio, Disney is still interested in continuing some of the franchises established before they launched their Hollywood takeover.
Chief among those would be Pirates of the Caribbean, which has a fifth installment (subtitled Dead Men Tell No Tales) set for a summer 2017 release. Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg will call the shots, with Johnny Depp once again reprising his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow. Outside of some casting rumors, not much else is known about the project, but series veteran Orlando Bloom has now spilled some details regarding the nature of the narrative.
While promoting The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Bloom spoke with IGN about his potential return to the Pirates franchise. After sitting out 2011's On Stranger Tides, it seems as if 'Will Turner' may return, as he previously confirmed "discussions" he's had with the filmmakers pertaining to his return. So what would his role be? Bloom suggests that a father/son arc is in order:
"I’m not entirely sure that [I'll be back] just yet, but there are talks. Basically they want to reboot the whole franchise, I think, and do something with me and the relationship with my son."
As you may recall, at the conclusion of 2007's At World's End, Turner has assumed control of "The Flying Dutchman", whose captain can only go on land once every ten years. That film's post-credits scene showed Turner returning to the mainland to reunite with Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and their son. It's been suggested by World's End writers that Turner can be relieved of his duties now that the ten years have past, but in the interview, Bloom maintained that he is essentially Davy Jones and expressed a desire to portray a character "rumbling round the bottom of the ocean."
Reboots, typically, erase the continuity of what's come before and offers the filmmakers a fresh start, so it's easy to be confused by Bloom's statement that the "whole franchise" is being restarted. From the sound of it, the fifth entry will feature elements from the previous installments, so if this is the plot the directors have in mind, it's more of a continuation than anything.
There is a chance that the new movie will operate as a "soft" reboot of sorts, in that it incorporates basic aspects or themes from the earlier works and tries to launch a fresh series for a new audience (similar to next year's Jurassic World), but even in those cases, it's rare to see established characters be carried over into something classified as a reboot. If Disney was really thinking of starting over, it's doubtful that Bloom, or even Depp, would be asked to come back.
With it looking all the more likely that Bloom has some kind of part in Dead Men Tell No Tales, the discussion will turn to whether or not that's a wise decision from the creative process. Arguably, the idea of seeing Turner interact with his son would be interesting to see, but after spending so much time with the son of Bootstrap Bill in the first three installments, there's a question of how much material there is left to cover. For all intents and purposes, Turner's role in this tale may be complete.
After starting the franchise off on a high note with 2003's The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney has seen diminishing returns on each film that followed. Box office wise, they remain global sensations (On Stranger Tides made over $1 billion), but the series hasn't been in the good graces of critics since the original movie and domestically, audience fatigue seemed to be settling in ($241 million in the States).
As more and more time passes between adventures, how many moviegoers will be excited to see the return of Captain Jack? Disney's probably thinking about that as well, so we'll have to see what effect Will Turner has on the reception, if any.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will be in theaters July 7, 2017.
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