While successful Disney franchises are nowadays expected to go on for as long as the executives can keep flogging the horse, few people would have expected the return of Jack Sparrow. Although the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is one of the most successful in history, earning a total of over $4 billion at the box office, many pundits had already called time on the series.
While the first four films were (mostly) critical and commercial successes, the most recent installment to hit the screens, Dead Men Tell No Tales, was an absolute dud, with the New York Times calling it “the perfect opposite of entertainment.” Since that ill-fated voyage, it was thought that plans for a sixth film had been shelved, until recently.
We now know that Pirates of the Caribbean 6 (name yet to be released) is slated for a release in May 2019, just in time for the blockbuster season. Whether it will prove to be a hit remains to be seen, but let’s look at what we might be able to expect from the next edition of one of the greatest franchises ever made.
What We Know… and Don’t Know
The sudden announcement of the sixth film leaves more questions than answers. The ending of the fifth film included a post-credits clip which alluded to a sequel, featuring the franchise villain Davy Jones, suggesting that Bill Nighy will be back to reprise his acclaimed role in Dead Man’s Chest. We also have it confirmed by Movie Web that the screenplay writers Jeff Nathanson, Terry Rossio, and Ted Elliot, who wrote the previous installments, will be back for this one.
Facts are thin on the ground right now, with the frigate-sized elephant in the room currently being the question of whether Johnny Depp will be returning as Captain Jack Sparrow. The actor has recently become Hollywood’s biggest liability following a string of scandals, gaffes, and criminal charges, so it remains to be seen whether the most famous character will be allowed back into the fold.
Will It Succeed?
Whether PC6 will be a success is not so much related to whether or not it is actually good – rather whether demand will still be there in 2019. The franchise ignited a global interest in the culture and history of the golden days of piracy, so this interest will be key to deciding the final box office numbers.
Since the premiere of the first film back in 2003, everyone has been cashing in on pirate fever. There’s the best-selling Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag video game by Ubisoft, there’s a Wild Jane: The Lady Pirate slot game on sites like Buzz Bingo, and a number of PC video games licensed by Disney. That’s before you include the Emmy-award winning TV series Black Sails – the show’s own creators thanked Jack Sparrow for drumming up interest in the subject matter.
A number of historical biographies of famous pirates such as Black Bart and Captain Kidd have also gone onto becomes bestsellers thanks to the franchise, which just goes to show that pirates have been a reliable money maker for the past ten years.
Whether pirate fever has finally waned remains to be seen. One thing that is certain is that while pirates continue to fascinate and entertain, Disney will still have a lot of work to do in order to convince audiences that the franchise is still worth a watch.