Disney says they aren't willing to say either way if Johnny Depp will come back for another Pirates of the Caribbean film.
Whether you love him or hate him, it’s fair to say that Johnny Depp’s recent live television legal drama with ex-wife Amber Heard was more interesting than most of the content he’s created in recent memory. Now that he emerged mostly triumphant from his legal proceedings, fans have been wondering when the star might return to hit franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean. It looks like that decision is still up in the air: in a recent interview with The New York Times, Disney Studios Motion Picture Production president Sean Bailey said that the studio was “noncommittal at this point” about Depp’s return to the high seas.
At first glance, that may sound like disappointing news to fans of Johnny Depp. After all, “noncommittal at this point” is a close cousin to simply saying “no comment,” and it would certainly have been preferable to get a firm “yes” to the idea of Depp’s return. But for those who like to think their cup of rum is half full instead of half empty, it’s important to note that Disney isn’t ruling out his return the way the company did before Depp mostly won his highly public defamation case against Heard.
The general narrative surrounding Disney’s decision to bring Johnny Depp back into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise or not has mostly focused on whether the studio wants to bring back someone who is such a drama magnet. However, Depp recently shocked the world by saying he doesn’t “feel much further need for Hollywood” anymore, which many took to indicate he’d be focusing more on independent films than the studio juggernauts which helped make him famous. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the biggest franchises in the world and comes from one of the biggest studios, so it may be the exact kind of Hollywood blockbuster Depp says he wants to avoid.
Some cynics have pointed out that Johnny Depp’s Hollywood comments may have been reserved more for the likes of Warner Bros., the studio that booted him from the failing Fantastic Beasts franchise. There’s a chance that Depp might return to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise if it is offered to him as a chance to improve his image and put the drama behind him, but it looks increasingly unlikely.
Just last year, franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that Depp’s return for the next film simply wasn’t possible, which seems to imply they are already building a film (and quite possibly continuing the franchise) without the actor who brought Jack Sparrow to life.
That might upset fans who want to see Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow once more, but we’re hoping that this ends well for both fans and Depp himself. Audiences are always decrying Disney and other major studios for giving us lame retread films in long-running franchises (looking at you, Fast X), so a definitive lack of Depp means they will have no choice but to do something new. As for Depp, he can now headline as many indie films as he wants without having to worry about studio interference, his ex-wife, or putting on a ton of eyeliner in the morning, so he’s definitely coming out ahead here.