johnny depp as jack sparrow

We are in uncharted waters with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. After the initial trilogy of films, all directed by Gore Verbinski, the series wrestled with ways to continue telling its stories with movies focused on Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). The fourth chapter, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, had loose connections to the trilogy, but these haven't necessarily tried to string a strong narrative thread that binds them all together. So when we were lucky enough to get Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning on the phone to discuss his upcoming sequel, we asked him point blank WHEN this new story takes place in the mythology, and he explained:

I would say around 10 years [have passed] probably, in the story. It has been almost six years since the last movie [On Stranger Tides] came out. Six or seven years. I think in the story, it's around 10 years, so things have happened.

One reason why we asked is because the most recent trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (which I'll include below) included several scenes with a young Jack Sparrow, so we entertained the thought that Joachim Rønning and his co-director, Espen Sandberg -- both newcomers to the Pirates series -- might have attempted a prequel... or a story that spends as much time in the past as it does in the "present" time of the Pirates stories.

The young Jack Sparrow scenes appear to be flashbacks, filling in the relationship that Sparrow has with new adversary, Salazar (Javier Bardem). Joachim Rønning confirmed to us that it IS Johnny Depp playing a younger version of his famous character, using digital wizardry (all the rage these days) to melt the years off of his facial features. Here, enough about me yammering about the trailer. Check it out for yourself right now.

One reason why we also wondered if Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales could be a one-off that exists on a different timeline is the absence of iconic characters Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Turner (Keira Knightley). Both are rumored to return for this fifth installment, though when we pressed Joachim Rønning for confirmation, he side stepped our inquiries with aplomb.

Apparently Directors Tell No Tales, as well.

The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie will be in theaters on May 26. But pay no real attention to that title card that calls it the "final" adventure, because Joachim Rønning tells us, if anything, he sees this as the beginning of a possible end, and he'd love to keep making movies in this franchise. We can't wait to see what he and Espen Sandberg came up with in a few months.

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