Johnny Depp starrer franchise has been a beloved and profitable series for Disney since its debut in 2003. With five successful films under its belt, the franchise has become a staple in the world of blockbuster filmmaking. However, recent events have called into question the future of the franchise, specifically in regard to the role of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
In 2017, reportedly began planning the end of ‘s tenure as Jack Sparrow, with the fifth film,. It was initially planned to be the beginning of the final adventure. However, in 2020, Disney announced they would be cutting ties with Johnny Depp, leaving the future of the franchise uncertain. This decision was made after Depp lost a high-profile defamation case against the British newspaper The Sun, which had referred to him as a “wife-beater” about his relationship with actress Amber Heard. The decision to cut ties with Johnny Depp was seen as a move to distance the franchise from the negative publicity surrounding the case.
Despite producer Jerry Bruckheimer stating in May 2020 that the first draft of the sixth film’s screenplay was close to being completed, the future of remains uncertain. On April 20, 2022, Johnny Depp stated at his defamation trial against that he was not interested in working on another Pirates film, even if Disney wanted him to. Johnny Depp stated that there was no going back after the studio removed him from the franchise even before a verdict had been reached in his case. He believes that the damage had already been done.
In June 2020, it was announced that a currently untitled spin-off film starring a female lead was in the works. This was likely an attempt to keep the franchise alive without Johnny Depp’s character.
However, in November 2022, Margot Robbie, the one reportedly cast to play the lead, announced that the project was no longer going forward. Jerry Bruckheimer later clarified that the project had been postponed to prioritize 6, but that the spin-off was still going to be made.
The future of Johnny Depp’s career and the franchise remains uncertain. It is unclear if Disney will move forward with without Depp’s character or if the franchise will continue in any form at all. Only time will tell what direction the franchise will take, but for now, it seems the era of Captain Jack Sparrow has come to an end. While it is unfortunate for the fans, Disney is looking for new opportunities to keep the franchise alive and make it more appealing to the new generation of moviegoers.