Disney is reportedly considering a reboot of their massively popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
There is no word whether anyone from the original cast, which included Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Kiera Knightley, would be asked to return.
The films, based on a Disney theme park ride, have become massive global successes, creating a symbiotic relationship with Depp, whose star rose after his inspired take on Jack Sparrow made him one of Disney's most iconic live-action characters. While Depp has been plagued with a number of box-office bombs in recent years, the Pirates franchise was always glad to have him back.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that a sixth film in the ongoing Pirates franchise was gearing up for pre-production, with Joachim Rønning expected to reprise his directing duties after the previous installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The script was supposedly being worked out by Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio and Jeff Nathanson, with franchise veteran Nigel Phelps will be returning for production design.
Rønning has a busy schedule, working on Disney's Maleficent 2, so actual production on Pirates of the Caribbean 6 would not have been set to begin until 2020, with 2021 or 2022 being the proposed release date window. This raises questions about whether the initial report was inaccurate, the planned sequel will now be a reboot, or whether there are any salvageable elements from the planned sequel that might make their way into a reboot.
Depp's schedule is full and unforgiving, and neither Knightley nor Bloom have been as consistently major presences in the Pirates films as he has. If one or all of those three declined to return, it could make more sense to Disney to just recast and move on, since ultimately the movie franchise has transformed Pirates of the Caribbean from a fringe piece of intellectual property to one of the most valuable pieces in Disney's library that did not originate with Marvel or Lucasfilm.
In addition to the inevitability of having to eventually recast, there is the financial realities of the franchise. Like Justice League and Transformers: The Last Knight, the most recent installment of the franchise earned big money at the box office -- but that money was well below expectations and did not reflect what Disney had hoped based on a massive initial investment.
The original Pirates franchise has earned more than $4 billion over 5 movies in 14 years -- but Pirates of the Caribbean 5 pulled in only $794 million worldwide after Pirates 4 cracked the $1 billion mark.