On December 23rd, it was announced that Johnny Depp will no longer take the helm as Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. At the age of 55 and after 14 years of playing the role, he has been the most prominent figure in the franchise. Disney has decided to reboot the series for the next generation, which goes back to what I was talking about in the last blog.
This series is only 14 years old. Everyone remembers the first time that we saw the black pearl attack Port Royal and that touching moment when Elizabeth and Will were married on the black pearl in the epic final battle in “At Worlds End”. The original trilogy was a huge success and Disney tried to continue the franchise after it was announced that the third installment was the final movie. Of course, it didn’t succeed. “On Stranger Tides” didn’t do as well as any of the original three movies and “Dead Men Tell No Tales” did even worse. Johnny Depp was in all of the movies and even his star power wasn’t enough to keep the franchise going. It wasn’t his fault though. Disney has a habit of trying to milk a franchise for all it’s worth (this is a reference to Toy Story), and when they bleed it dry, they reimagine it and expect us to fall for another version of the same story.
I honestly don’t think the franchise should have went this long. After the third installment, the story seemed to wrap up pretty nicely and there was enough closure for all of us to feel like we got our money’s worth. When I found out they were making “On Stranger Tides”, I knew it wouldn’t be as successful as it’s predecessors and it would be the final nail in the coffin. Now that Disney decided to reboot the entire thing, they think that getting rid of Depp is the answer and they can start making millions again with a fresh new cast and a couple of new stories. They can try to say that there won’t be any references to the original stories, but I guarantee they will sneak one or two in there to try to get fans of the original series in the theater. I promise you, this won’t be worth it. Disney puts out amazing things for movie goers, but sometimes, it’ll fall flat and it’s best to cut your losses and move on to the next project.
Johnny Depp has served his fans well in this role. Not many executives saw Depp as a major player outside his normal Tim Burton roles. Had someone else been casted in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow, the franchise would have looked way different and, arguably, it wouldn’t have been successful. Of course, there have been times when roles have been recasted in the middle of the series and the movie benefited from it. Such as the Hulk being recasted from Eric Band to mark Ruffalo, it didn’t hurt the character development, but it also didn’t help it either. That’s basically a win-win situation for Disney and they were able to move forward without missing a step. There have been times where a recasting was necessary because the movie failed completely, like in Superman Returns where the movie tried to follow the original franchise from the 70’s and it didn’t do as good as the producers had hoped. Of course, no one talks about that movie at all, so unless you’ve seen it, you won’t know what I’m talking about. In this case however, their hoping that rebooting the franchise with a new cast and a new story will revive the Pirates of the Caribbean series and bring the audiences back to the theater ready to ride on the black pear, and that’s assuming the ship will return as well.
As we look back and wave our final farewell to Captain Jack Sparrow on Port Authority, we can’t help but smile because of all the funny moments that he left us and all the moments where he surprised us with how conniving he was with his tactics. Johnny Depp as Captain Sparrow will always bring a smile to my face, and I think he went into this role wanting to make an impact in our lives. I feel that Johnny Depp is far from hanging up his hat as an actor and I’m sure he has bigger intentions in giving the audience an experience of a lifetime, this is was just a stepping stone into something greater. At the same time, no one will ever be able to replace him as Captain Jack Sparrow. This version of the character is one of a kind. And as Lieutenant Groves always said, “Do you think he plans it out, or just makes it up as he goes along?”