Even before Johnny Depp was unceremoniously dumped from his signature role as Captain Jack Sparrow, it was already clear that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was starting to run out of gas.
While most big budget blockbusters would kill for a box office haul of almost $795 million, Dead Men Tell No Tales was viewed internally as a disappointment by Disney after becoming the lowest-grossing installment since the original one fourteen years previously, and the profit margins were considerably thinner when you remember the fifth entry in the series cost over twice as much to make as the $140 million Curse of the Black Pearl.
The diminishing critical reactions must have been a cause for consternation as well, with each new Pirates movie scoring worse reviews than its predecessor, nosediving from the first film’s 79% Rotten Tomatoes score to Dead Men Tell No Tales‘ 29%. A fresh coat of creative paint was desperately needed, then, but fans could never have imagined that it would involve getting rid of the leading man, biggest draw and main selling point of the entire brand.
There’s now a sixth outing and a spinoff in development, neither of which are set to involve Depp, but we’re hearing from our sources – the same ones who told us Captain America 4 was in the works long before it was confirmed – that Captain Jack’s spirit will still be felt throughout the franchise in some form.
Further details remain unclear, but this could be via visual cues, narrative references or even appearances from those closest to him in the mythology like Kevin McNally’s Joshamee Gibbs. In any case, the Mouse House might be adamant that Pirates of the Caribbean moves forward without Johnny Depp and Jack Sparrow, but it sounds as though they won’t completely ignore his existence.