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Despite the glitz and glamour, show business is still a business. There's accounting that must be done, tedious paperwork, and quite a bit of litigation involved every step of the way. Few franchises understand this idea more than the Pirates of the Caribbean series, as the development of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was apparently attacked from all sides by at least six different legal battles during its inception. Longtime Pirates of the Caribbean screenwriter Terry Rossio opened up ahead of the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and explained:
A successful film career comes with lawsuits. For the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Disney was hit with no less than six plagiarism suits. All writers claiming we stole their work. (Not to mention we supposedly lifted elements of the video game Monkey Island, also stuff from the novel On Stranger Tides. Add that there was a first draft screenplay by other writers, and also a ride at Disneyland. With all that, why, the script practically wrote itself!
One lawsuit is a lot to deal with; now imagine dealing with six all at once. Terry Rossio's recent comments in a Wordplay Column about his work on Pirates of the Caribbean gets to the heart of writing an adaptation of a potential Hollywood blockbuster. In the earliest days of its existence, the Pirates franchise allegedly cribbed some different elements from many different sources (ranging from Monkey Island video games to pirate novels), which subsequently led to several different parties crying foul against Rossio and Disney. Couple that with the fact that Curse of the Black Pearl's script went through the hands of several different writers before it eventually got made, and it appears that seemingly everyone wanted to get his or her name attached to the final cut of the film. Even the smallest of these suits turned into enormous headaches for Rossio, as he was forced to turn over subpoenaed documents and emails -- which took time away from his work on the movie.
Arguably no legal battle epitomizes Pirates of the Caribbean's constant courtroom issues than the frequent lawsuits of Royce Mathew. The Florida-based author has sued Disney on three separate occasions over The Curse of the Black Pearl because he created the concept of cursed pirates who turn into skeletons when exposed to moonlight.
These legal arguments date all the way back to 2005, and while Disney has managed to come out on top in these instances, it hasn't stopped Mathew from consistently attempting to bring them back to court over the studio's art. If nothing else, it goes to show that the process of developing a fictional world is a hectic, contentious, and downright complicated process -- even behind the scenes of a seemingly innocent universe like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens this coming weekend on May 26. Beyond that, check out our 2017 movie premiere guide to keep yourself up to date on the rest of this year's most highly anticipated theatrical debuts!