The franchise is at something of a standstill, but instead of a sixth film, its best future might be a TV series. After the poor performance of and the probable loss of star Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, the way forward for the Disney property has been unclear. Returning to tell a new story in the world of could feel disjointed in the form of a feature film. However, many of the franchise's most significant problems could be fixed with a Disney+ series instead.
The first three told a cohesive story, and it was one that audiences adored. Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swan, and Will Turner - joined by several other memorable pirates - made for a winning group of characters that audiences were willing to return to film after film. However, that ended with the fourth film, , when only Jack returned for an entirely new story. tried to remedy this by bouncing back to the plot and characters audiences were familiar with, but the damage had been done. Now, the way forward may be an entirely new format.
Even though and didn't perform as well as the original trilogy, audiences still returned to the theaters to see Depp in his iconic role of Jack Sparrow. However, it seems increasingly to the franchise after Disney dismissed him due to his past legal troubles with actress Amber Heard. With his famed defamation trial win, Depp's fans will be even more unlikely to accept a new actor as the lead of the movies. However, if a new story were to also take a new format, the franchise could get away with it.
If Disney releases a as they have been attempting, audiences are likely to be uncomfortable with a new lead. However, switching from film to a streaming series might be a significant enough change to cause a hard refresh on fans' expectations. Changing formats implies a whole new story, which would naturally mean a new lead. This way, a new actor taking up the mantle of the central pirate of wouldn't feel like a painfully forced effort.
Actors Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly didn't participate in , and the film suffered as a result. They did make an appearance in but their cameos were so short that it ultimately felt more like pandering than an organic way of bringing back their characters. Of course, with these actors' busy careers, getting them to lock in for a full-feature film would likely be difficult. However, bringing in the likes of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan for an episode or two of a TV series could be much more realistic.
This could be especially exciting if the potential series took place during the time gaps between the end of and the moment Will was freed from the Flying Dutchman's curse in . A surprise appearance from Elizabeth could fill in what she did during her decades of waiting for Will. Perhaps she spent more time pirating on the seas as well - or even had some brushes with her cursed husband. Plus, this would be when characters like Captain Barbossa were still alive, so he could also have a quick cameo.
Just because Jack Sparrow would be unlikely to lead a new series doesn't mean another familiar character couldn't. In the form of a film, it would be challenging to promote a minor character to center stage without an awkward or forced transition. But, in the case of a series, this would all change - in fact, it would be highly beneficial. If audiences can see a familiar face take the lead, especially one with a lot of potential for further character exploration, they would be likelier to hop on board with a new streaming series.
A potential example would be James Norrington, whose actor, Jack Davenport, has good-naturedly shown a willingness to return to . Davenport expressed that this would be unlikely, especially since his character was killed in . However, a TV series makes the idea of a Norrington-led plot far more viable. The commodore-turned-pirate-ally was a surprising favorite for audiences, and his story had far more potential than the films ever had time to explore - but a series could change all that.
Especially in fantasy, TV series have only grown more popular. Shows like demonstrated how such a versatile format allowed for several stories to be told simultaneously. This is something that the franchise has taken advantage of with and . This means a seemingly unlimited number of episodes (assuming good performance), and plots can get far more complicated than movies have time for. When it comes to , which take place in the massive world of piracy, this would open several doors.
A series could follow several pirate captains at once in a way that the movies never could. Even if none of the original cast and characters were to return, it wouldn't take long for a new set to be explored. Like the different kingdoms in , each pirate ship would bring its own crew full of conflict, crime, love, betrayal, and comedy. The movies never fully worked as a movie franchise, but a TV series could create a bigger, more cohesive world.
was released in 2003, which makes it the perfect age for fan nostalgia. However, since there have been several additional film installments since then, it would be difficult for another movie to capitalize on this. A new movie would feel like just another added to the list. However, a TV series would interrupt the pattern enough to draw interest back into the franchise - especially if it brought back the features of the original film that were lost over the years.
As a series, a revival could approach the world of swashbucklers as if it was brand new while staying true to the world fans remember. Returning to locations like the Port Royal jail, Isla de Muerta, or Tortuga would be highly nostalgic, especially if original character cameos were thrown in to make it feel like home. These places are already expected in a movie, but all bets are off in a series. It would be the best way to refresh the love audiences had for the franchise for years while also giving them something unique to usher into an entirely new era.