Last October we reported that Disney was courting Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to reboot Pirates of the Caribbean. The series was waning and even though On Stranger Tides made over a billion worldwide and Dead Men Tell No Tales managed a respectable $794 million worldwide, there was still the matter of Johnny Depp’s fading star power and costly price tag. A reboot or semi-reboot would give the property new life and allow it to move on from Depp even if his Captain Jack Sparrow had been the face of the Pirates franchise.
But now it looks like the reboot is rudderless as Deadline reports that Reese and Wernick have left the project. Disney’s film production chief Sean Bailey was high on the Zombieland screenwriters bringing their edge to the franchise, saying [per Deadline], “the scribes were going to ‘make Pirates punk rock again’ and give the franchise a much-needed ‘kick in the pants’ that would revive the off-kilter charisma the brand exuded in its early days.” That was a noble ambition, and I applaud Bailey for angling to make Pirates weird again, but it looks like it’s not to be.
Now the question becomes whether or not they find new writers to reboot the series or just shelve Pirates for the indefinite future. Although there’s been some talk about possibly taking Pirates of the Caribbean to TV, the production costs are prohibitive for such an endeavor, not just when it comes to shooting on water, but also probably for the VFX budget this series demands. It would also be somewhat risky since interest in Pirates seems to be fading overall, and dumping money into a TV show doesn’t seem to be a solution to that problem.
Personally, I think it’s time to let Pirates lay low for a while. We don’t need any more of these movies, and we certainly don’t need them with Johnny Depp in the lead. While Disney’s in-house studio needs its own lineup of hits (even though they’ve got a long line of live-action adaptations of animated moves ahead), the Pirates brand is exhausted. Let it sit on the shelf for ten years and then bring it back with a new cast, new ideas, and a new audience ready to go back on the high seas.