While Disney has tried several times to launch movies that were inspired by its theme park attractions, the only real success the movie side of the company has seen has come from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. With five movies that have made over $4 billion in total, it's no surprise that Disney is reportedly looking at multiple ways to take the franchise forward. But what seems clear at this point is that when Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is released, assuming it ever is, it will happen without Johnny Depp or Captain Jack Sparrow. But should he get a cameo?
Over the last few years Johnny Depp has found himself spending more time in court rooms than on movie sets, and the allegations that have followed Depp, mostly surrounding his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard, have reportedly led Disney to make the decision to move the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise forward without Captain Jack Sparrow, but at least one of Depp's co-stars doesn't think that's the right call.
Greg Ellis, who played Lt. Groves in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, has had his own dealings with the legal system in recent years, and has published a book on the topic for which Johnny Depp wrote the introduction. Ellis recently told Express, that he thinks Depp should be back for the next Pirates film, as having a Pirates of the Caribbean 6 without Johnny Depp is like having any ship without a captain. Ellis explains...
I think for Pirates 6…in an ideal world, every character who the fans have fallen in love with will be able to come back to kind of wrap everything up. Ultimately it comes down to screenplay and story. If Jack Sparrow isn’t a key, if not the key element, to wrapping up a multi-billion dollar franchise, is it not akin to not having Captain Kirk in [the original] Star Trek?
Greg Ellis' argument is understandable. Captain Jack Sparrow has been a major part of the franchise up until this point. So if Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is a direct sequel to the previous films and doesn't include Sparrow, that would certainly feel like something (or in this case someone) is missing. Ellis' seems to feel that Johnny Depp shouldn't just have a cameo in a new movie but should be a big part of it. However, reports have claimed that Disney has killed even the idea of a cameo for Depp in a future film.
At the same time, Disney it wouldn't be surprising if Disney felt that doing a Pirates of the Caribbean 6 without Captain Jack would be difficult at best. Which is likely why, as far as we know, that movie isn't really on the agenda. There are reportedly two separate Pirates of the Caribbean movies in development. One is being written by Christina Hodson and is looking to star Margot Robbie. Another film is being written by the duo of Ted Elliot and Craig Mazin. The first one is certainly a new direction for the franchise, and the second is not confirmed to be a sequel. Elliot and Mazin were brought in following the departure of Deadpool Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who were originally brought in to reboot the franchise.
It would seem a future for Johnny Depp here is unlikely. However, Greg Ellis does ultimately believe that, one way or another, Depp will be back on the big screen. He continues...
Do I think he’s going to come back? Yes. To what degree, I’m not sure.[There’s] this reputation savaging that’s going on, this victimhood culture where victimhood is the new social currency and its economy is booming, and it’s been inflated.
Of course, it's been a while since we've heard any real news on any of these projects, so what's happening with them is far from clear any anything could change. It's possible Disney is hoping that the forthcoming Jungle Cruise, will become the studio's new theme park franchise, and Pirates might end up sinking down to Davy Jones' Locker for a long time.