It's been almost two decades since Pirates of the Caribbean became a bonafide box office franchise. With Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales finding its way to theaters this weekend, that reputation is once again being put to the test, and if things go well, we might be seeing another series entry in the future. In fact, recently famous producer Jerry Bruckheimer revealed that Johnny Depp is paramount to the Pirates of the Caribbean series. In fact, if Johnny Depp ever decided not to be a part of the proceedings, another pirates movie may not be possible. He said:
The secret to any successful franchise is picking talented people, and Johnny is absolutely key to the success of Pirates. He's such a unique character, such an endearing character, and such an irreverent character all in one...
So if you find yourself walking away from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hoping that Henry Turner and Carina Smyth will be the focus of the franchise from this point on, don't think it'll happen without good old Captain Jack accompanying them for comedic relief. While this certainly sounds like a line in the sand that's being drawn fairly recently, franchise history would have another thing to say about that. This is particularly true considering Disney has already shown this strategy on display in the execution of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
While the marketing machine for the franchise moved into the Johnny Depp market as soon as the first sequel was greenlit, it wasn't until the third sequel in the series that Captain Jack was really made the true forefront of the series. Leaving out the fact that the film was roundly ridiculed on its content, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the second highest grossing installment in the series' total worldwide grosses. So clearly Johnny Depp was still a pretty big selling point for the franchise.
The true test of whether audiences want Johnny Depp back on their screens in pirate garb, as well as if he's going to be asked to come back, is whether or not Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales continues to bring in the big bucks this weekend. With a projected $80 million marking a continued decline in domestic opening grosses, the international market will still more than likely pull the heavy weight for the Pirates franchise. And as far as international audiences are concerned, Depp is the key to the entire series. Jerry Bruckheimer's remarks to The Digital Spy recognize this fact, and so as long as he and Disney wants to make money on their seafaring epics, Captain Jack will be here to stay.