The most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out just last year, but that won’t satisfy Disney’s unquenchable thirst for milking the brand for all it’s worth. The Mouse House is reportedly exploring a reboot of the popular pirate franchise, Deadline reported yesterday (Oct. 23).
It’s a particularly egregious example of Hollywood’s increasingly cynical reboot craze. Modern blockbuster franchises—that is, any intellectual property that has at one time or another made lots of money—never actually end. They’re just “relaunched” or “reset” over and over, altered just enough to justify a continued existence. Sony is in the midst of relaunching the once-popular Men in Black franchise (a 2012 film grossed $624 million worldwide) with a new cast. Paramount reportedly wants to reset the Transformers series despite one of its films being released this year. And Warner Bros. is constantly looking for ways to revamp the struggling but high-potential DC superhero universe.
Deadline reports that Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the writing duo behind Deadpool, are in talks to pen the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot. It’s unclear if Johnny Depp, the star of the franchise as the bumbling pirate Jack Sparrow, will return to the role amid online campaigns dissuading studios from casting the actor in big projects, in light of allegations that he abused his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, when they were together from 2012 to 2016.
Also unknown is whether the Pirates reboot is in addition to, or instead of, earlier plans to continue the franchise with another traditional sequel. The franchise’s most recent film, Dead Men Tell No Tales, was released in 2017 and grossed nearly $800 million at the global box office. Including all five films, the franchise has made more than $4.5 billion in total, making it Disney’s third most lucrative operation behind Star Wars and Marvel.
While it mulls how to reboot a Pirates franchise that didn’t technically end in the first place, Disney is also developing a live-action version of its 2002 animated film, Lilo & Stitch, to add to its infinite catalog of human-acted adaptations of its own cartoon movies. Disney has live-action versions of Dumbo, Mulan, and Winnie the Pooh, among others, already in the works. It’s only a matter of time before the Jack Sparrow-Dumbo crossover.