Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides may be a guaranteed hit, but these are tough times we're living in, and even Disney doesn't seem to have unlimited funds. The LA Times reports that the studio has imposed a budget for the film that's at least a third less than they spent on Pirates 3. It's still over $200 million, of course, but when you're a movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, that's like the crafts services budget.

Bruckheimer and director Rob Marshall are working around the budget cuts in all kinds of ways, from writing more scenes with Captain Jack Sparrow on land-- water shoots are crazy expensive-- to cutting an entire scene that would have been an "ice fair" set on a frozen-over River Thames. The very fact that they're filming in Hawaii and London is due to favorable tax credits, and the shooting schedule is getting cut down too, just 90-95 days compared to the 142 spent making Pirates 3. And why is Rob Marshall directing this instead of Gore Verbinski, who made the first three films? Apparently the studio was furious with him for going over budget on Pirates 3, so they chucked him entirely.

Bruckheimer promises "the audience will never miss" the extra special effects and scenes, and Marshall, who's probably a little overwhelmed right now, emphasizes that "This is by far the biggest budget I've ever worked with," which I guess is code for "I wouldn't have known what to do with more money anyway." As studios have increasingly focused on tentpoles and franchises along the lines of Transformers and Pirates, it's frequently seemed as if they were just willing to throw money constantly at whatever franchise looked most lucrative-- how else can you explain Michael Bay spending all that money to animate the racist robots? It's hugely refreshing to see even the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer having to deal with constrained budgets, especially if Disney somehow manages to spend that money on smaller projects that deserve a greenlight more than the totally unnecessary Pirates 4.
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