The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been a huge money-maker for Disney, starting as a dark horse prospect, based on an unlikely theme park ride. However, after the massive success of the first film, Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney jumped into the franchise with both feet, and we apparently the funding for the two sequels filmed back-to-back (Dead Men's Chest, and At World's End) was so ridiculous that snacks for the cast and crew cost millions of dollars!
When the latest Pirates installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales was headed into theaters, stars of the franchise were brought back for some reflection on the fourteen-year road from Black Pearl to Dead Men, when actor Jack Davenport (who played Commodore James Norrington) revealed the following to Bloomsberg:
“I remember saying to [the craft services chef] one day ‘What is your budget for all this?’ He looked me square in the eye and said ‘essentially unlimited.’ I was like ‘What does that mean?’ He was like ‘I don’t know, $2 million.’ I was like ‘For snacks?’ And he was like ‘yeah?’ That sounds frivolous but it wasn’t. He obviously had to keep people fed. The point is that was just a snack line item.”
The cast members went on to contextualize that anecdote with descriptions of the overall massive budget and undertaking of filming the two sequels in the original Pirates trilogy, which included things like hundreds of cell phones lost at sea (always good for the environment...). When it came to the food, the cost of obtaining it wasn't the only challenge - as Davenport explains, the logistics of getting it to the crew were just as costly:
“We used to work on the first film, and I remember looking at the call sheet and it would say just catering alone it was 750 lunches and we were in the middle of nowhere. They had to fly in everything, all the food. It was like being in an invading army.”
If you've never been on the set of a major motion picture, then you may not understand the level of cost and abundance that goes into a production. What's described above is definitely on the more extravagant end of the spectrum, but it's not out of the realm of what goes into other productions - especially those funded by the Mouse House.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is now available on home video.