I invite you to cast your minds back to 2003. It was a simpler time for many of us (mainly because most current SLU students were in elementary school). It also featured the release of the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which came out that June. Over the following years, Captain Jack Sparrow’s signature braided beard and dark eyeliner continued popping up on the big screen. The second installment of the series premiered in 2006, while the third and fourth installments, “At World’s End” and “On Stranger Tides,” came out in 2007 and 2011, respectively.
Many assumed the fourth film was the last we would see of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the fairly stupid yet lovable pirate, but that changed with the release of the trailer for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film: “Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The previous films came out only a few years apart, yet the circumstances surrounding the upcoming movie reveal why there was such a substantial break before it could be produced. In 2013, Disney made a film called “The Lone Ranger,” which featured Johnny Depp in a lead role they considered fairly similar to Jack Sparrow. Unfortunately, this movie lost the corporation around $130 million. The fifth Pirates movie was slated to open in 2015, yet after this massive loss, Disney was unsure about pushing forward with another huge Depp film.
These financial concerns were additionally warranted because of the historically high budgets required to produce a “Pirates of the Caribbean” film. In fact, “On Stranger Tides” had the highest budget of any movie ever, coming out at around $410 million. Although the film did well, it was only the 22nd highest grossing film, with “Avatar” in the lead at number one.
Despite the seven-year break, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” will feature many familiar faces. Johnny Depp, Kevin McNally, and Geoffrey Rush will all be returning in their iconic roles. Additionally, Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom rejoin their fellow cast members after having been absent from the fourth movie. They will again play Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner. Their return is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that the last time Will Turner appeared in one of the films, he had become the captain of the Flying Duchman, a role that left him eternally guiding souls to the afterlife. Joining the original crew are Kaya Scodelario, known for her role as Teresa in “The Maze Runner,” and Brenton Thwaites, an Australian actor who previously worked with Disney for the 2014 film “Maleficent.” The two newcomers play Carina Smyth and Henry, who team up with Captain Jack Sparrow in his quest for the Trident of Poseidon.
The addition of these new characters, Henry, in particular, hints at the possibility that this is still not the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Rumor has it that Henry may, in fact, be Will Turner’s long-lost son, and Orlando Bloom even hinted that a reboot may be in order which would center around this younger generation. Following “The Lone Ranger” catastrophe, it is clear why Disney would want to hang onto such a consistently successful series for as long as possible. Regardless of this possibility, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” will hit the big screens on May 26, bringing with it many familiar faces not yet ready to be forgotten.