A Johnny Depp-Less Pirates Is For The Best For The Entire Franchise
Bye bye Jack.
When the news broke that Pirates of the Caribbean would get a reboot from Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and that the franchise would be ditching Johnny Depp, those of us who love Pirates and have come to loathe Depp breathed a sigh of relief.
No more would we all be tormented by the pirate who long overstayed his welcome, Jack Sparrow. Though Depp received an Oscar nomination for his turn in the first film, his character has grown increasingly annoying over the past films, ultimately proving to be the worst part of the already terrible On Stranger Tides and Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Today, it was revealed that by removing Depp from the franchise, the studio will save about $90 million, which is reportedly Depp’s salary for the films. This is a smart move on Disney’s part, as having a lower budget while rebooting a franchise which many associate with Depp himself might be a smart choice. This means there’s less of a risk in case audiences don’t flock to the sixteen-year-old franchise that will not feature any returning characters.
It also proves to be a bit of a smart move box office wise. Depp’s last two tentpoles, Dead Men Tell No Tales and Crimes of Grindelwald, underperformed at the domestic box office. Pirates 5 only made about $172 million domestically, while Fantastic Beasts has currently made about $156 million as of the writing of this article. Both films grossed a far greater deal when factoring in global totals, with Pirates making over $780 million and Beasts coming in at about $628 million, but the domestic gross is still a slap in the face.
So, re-centering the franchise on a new character not only saves money and potentially means a better domestic gross, but also is a smart way to reinvent the franchise. The films have dragged, with Stranger Tides emerging as an entirely forgettable entry and Dead Men Tell No Tales trying to reboot the franchise around the children of major players from earlier films (spoiler alert: the youthful male lead is the kid of Will and Elizabeth, and our female heroine is Barbossa’s kid).
Each film focused mostly on Jack Sparrow, which was great for fans of his character but forgot that the love story between Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) was the emotional heart of the original trilogy. Jack has never had the emotional depth or range to carry his own films, not since he got the Black Pearl back. Either that, or no writer has seen fit to challenge him as a character, preferring to let Depp’s strutting performance carry the character. Which works once, but after the fifth go-around, the schtick wears thin.
Rumors have circled that the new pirate at the heart of the franchise would be theme-park darling Redd, who replaced the redheaded wife for auction on the Pirates ride. People are angry of course, because Redd represents a change to the ride to make it less sexist and now she’s taking over a franchise from a male actor who’s long past his heyday. But what else was to be expected from the Internet?
Depp’s removal is a smart business decision for Disney. By cutting ties, they can move forward with the franchise and not have as big a budget to risk not seeing a profit. Hopefully, whoever takes over the lead is a far more dynamic and complicated character than Sparrow’s later incarnations, and can actually carry the franchise without needing supporting characters to do the heavy lifting.
(via Forbes, image: Disney)
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