‘Pirates of the Caribbean’: Disney Just Launched Another Shared Universe, and No One Noticed

Given the higher profitability involved, it’s easy to see why shared universes have become all the rage in Hollywood. In the wake of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney itself has already applied this model to Star Wars. And now the studio is taking a similar approach to another hit franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Johnny Depp at the 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' premiere
Johnny Depp at the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ premiere | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series has run out of creative juice

Way back in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl felt like a miracle. For years before its release, movies centered on pirates were box office poison. This was especially the case after 1995’s Cutthroat Island proved to be an infamous box office disaster.

Yet, to everyone’s surprise, Disney landed one of the year’s biggest hits with a movie based on a theme park ride. Undoubtedly, Johnny Depp’s eccentric performance as Jack Sparrow helped the movie take flight. And before long, back-to-back sequels were greenlit and produced.

Those films — released in 2006 and 2007 — kept the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise running strong. But once Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley left after the third entry, the series began to sputter along. Even Depp’s once-beloved character wore thin, leaving Disney with a decision to make.

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Margot Robbie has just joined a new movie, but it’s not what fans think

The underperformance of 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales led Disney to begin development on a reboot. This entry will not feature Jack Sparrow but instead focus on a new female lead. Many fans assumed the latest update about the franchise was tied to that project.

The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Margot Robbie is attached to star in a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The actor will reteam with Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson for the movie. But contrary to what many fans believe, this isn’t the much-talked-about franchise reboot.

Rather, Robbie’s film will be an entirely different story set within the world of Pirates of the Caribbean. And the fact that two separate movies are in concurrent development means Disney aims to make the series a lot bigger than just the Jack Sparrow show it’s been for five movies.

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Marvel star Karen Gillan has long been attached to lead the reboot

Given the downward trajectory of the series, this decision feels incredibly vital for the series’ long-term viability. Depp’s star has been on the decline for a while, as has the interest in his character. At this point, it’s unclear whether the next Pirates of the Caribbean movies will acknowledge Jack Sparrow. But it’s likely to build on what’s already been established.

In fact, there’s not a whole lot known about the official franchise reboot right now. MCU star Karen Gillan is attached to the project. And rumors indicate she could be playing Redd, a character from the theme park attraction. Gillan has proven herself a capable action star in the MCU and the recent Jumanji films. Stay tuned for further updates as they come in.