Disney has been struggling with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, even before Johnny Depp’s personal troubles almost certainly made the series lose Captain Jack Sparrow. Since Pirates of the Caribbean hit its box office peak with 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest, the domestic take has continuously shrunk. With Pirates needing to shake things up, a new rumor says that Disney is planning to diversify future Pirates of the Caribbean installments.
The news comes from Daniel Richtman, who says on his Patreon page that just as Disney made Marvel and Star Wars franchises with great female leads and casts full of non-white characters, the company seems poised to do the same thing with Pirates of the Caribbean. With Pirates of the Caribbean expanding in the future, it makes sense that Disney’s biggest live-action franchise should follow suit with their Marvel and Star Wars properties.
Since it’s introduction in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been the most successful live-action series in Disney history. The second, third, and fourth installments of the film each made over one billion dollars, or came extremely close to going over that hurdle. However, 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales was quite the disappointment, despite making $794 million worldwide. With the fifth film only receiving $172 million from domestic audiences, it became clear that Western audiences were losing interest in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Yet that hasn’t stopped Disney from trying to reinvigorate this series, seemingly through an influx of strong female characters and non-white leads. Disney originally planned to film the fifth and sixth installments back-to-back, but plans for that were scrapped. The sixth film will bring back Dead Men Tell No Tales’ director Joachim Rønning, and will receive a script from Ted Elliott and Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin. Kaya Scodelario, who played Carin Smyth in the fifth film, said she is contracted to return for the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film, while Johnny Depp supposedly will not be allowed to return to the franchise.
In addition to this sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film, there is a new female-led spinoff in the works, written by Christina Hodson, writer of Birds of Prey, and with Margot Robbie set to star. While there are few details about this spinoff yet, it seems clear that Disney wants to recreate some of that Birds of Prey magic in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
While Kaya Scodelario and Margot Robbie would be strong leads to both iterations of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, this does bring into question if we will see the return of other characters in the future. Does this mean Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush have taken their last trip on the Black Pearl? Probably, since it looks as though Disney wants to move forward, without reminding audiences of their Depp-filled past. Pirates of the Caribbean is a much-beloved franchise that needed to make some big changes, and thankfully, it seems Disney is ready to meet that challenge.