The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has has brought in more than $4.5 billion at the global box office over its lifetime. Not bad for a movie based on a theme park attraction. While the last film in the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales still made nearly $800 million around the world, the franchise appears to be sitting in limbo, with no new projects on the horizon.
While at least one attempt to relaunch the franchise appears to have been a false start, what's clear is that Disney is willing, if not specifically interested, in moving forward with Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but doing so without Johnny Depp. Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow has been the face of the franchise to this point, so it's far from clear that a PotC movie without Depp would ever work.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a pair of actors who appeared alongside Johnny Depp in the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and I asked them what they thought of the franchise moving forward without Depp. Vince Lozano, who played the bomb throwing pirate Jacoby, thought that something entirely new might work for the franchise, but that any attempt to bring back Jack Sparrow without Johnny Depp was a bad move. According to Lozano...
Johnny Depp was so iconic in the role of Jack Sparrow and so powerful, and so was Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and all those guys. I mean, it would be hard to replace those performers because they’re so connected to the film...I mean I’m all for it if it’s something completely different, but if they’re going to try to replace Jack Sparrow with another actor, I don’t know if that’s a smart thing to do.
What little rumor and speculation there was regarding any new Pirates of the Caribbean movies seemed to indicate that if Johnny Depp was gone, Jack Sparrow would be too. It doesn't look like recasting existing roles is in the cards, but at this point, it's likely nothing is entirely off the table.
Having said that, Vince Lozano also pointed out that a character like Batman has been played many times by different actors, with each one bringing something new and different to the table. Captain Jack Sparrow certainly isn't Batman, but that's not to say he might not be one day.
I posed the same question to Martin Klebba, who has played the role of the pirate Marty in all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. His first reaction was to believe that Johnny Depp was ultimately irreplaceable. Captain Jack, and therefore Depp, was vital to the franchise. Though, he did suggest that if a new lead was brought in, it would need to be a big name in order to convince the existing fan base to give it a chance.
Part of me is like, ‘how do you do a Jesus movie without Jesus?’ but if they go in a different direction... It would have to be somebody that’s just a huge, huge, box office draw because I don’t know that the story will really hold the fans from yesteryear to it if it's not something that they can get behind.
These two pirates aren't the only ones who would like to see Johnny Depp return. Fans started multiple petitions to ask Disney to bring the actor back.
We haven't heard much of anything about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise after the writing team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick decided not to work on it. Still, considering how successful the franchise has been, it seems highly unlikely that Disney is going to just give up on it. We may or may not have heard the last of Captain jack Sparrow, but we'll almost certainly be setting sail with pirates before too long.