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Five movies in and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is still a huge moneymaker for Disney, which makes a sixth film a virtual certainty. However, the next movie has a hurdle to overcome that the previous movies have not had to deal with, as the one part of the other movies, Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is a big question mark for future installments.
Up to this point, Captain Jack has been the one constant in the series but a collection of recent personal issues for the actor including accusations of domestic violence have made the actor potentially difficult to work with. Right now we just don't know whether Johnny Depp will be back for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and it turns out the producer of the franchise doesn't know either. Jerry Bruckheimer recently spoke to Collider and said...
The one we’re developing right now, we’re not sure quite what Johnny’s role is going to be. So, we’re going to have to see.
Honestly, I'm not even sure how you work on developing a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie without answering the Johnny Depp question first. It would seem like you're looking at making a very different movie with or without him in it. A movie with Jack Sparrow is a sequel to the existing franchise, a movie without him is a reboot that takes the brand in a new direction. Jack Sparrow is such a unique character that trying to replace him with somebody else, or trying to add him to an existing idea that he wasn't originally part of, seems like a herculean task.
I suppose you could plan for a film that was largely a reboot, that might include an appearance by Jack Sparrow in a "pass the torch" sort of way, that could also write around that if the decision was made to not include him at all. Of course, there are some loose threads that previous films have left which a sequel could follow up on, but that would likely only work if Jack Sparrow came back.
What seems clear is that, one way or another, Pirates of the Caribbean will move forward, even if it does so without Johnny Depp. Jerry Bruckheimer is working with previous Pirates screenwriter Ted Elliot and Chernobyl's Craig Mazin on whatever it is that's being put together. The pair came on board late last year after a previous effort with Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick fell through.
One rumor that has persisted, is that the future Pirates franchise could focus on the character of Redd, the red-haired pirate found in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Karen Gillan's name has even been rumored as being somebody Disney is interested to bring on board to play the role.