Jerry Bruckheimer said it is unlikely “at this point” that Johnny Depp would return to a potential sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie to play Captain Jack Sparrow again, the Hollywood blockbuster producer revealed in a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Times.
“Not at this point,” he said when asked about Depp. “The future is yet to be decided.”
Instead, the 78-year-old Bruckheimer said he’s trying to rebuild the nearly two-decades-old “Pirates” franchise around a new protagonist, ideally played by Margot Robbie. “We’re developing two ‘Pirates’ scripts. One with her, one without,” he said.
Bruckheimer’s comments come a few weeks after Depp was asked on the stand during his highly-publicized court case against ex-girlfriend Amber Heard whether it was correct that “nothing on this Earth would get you to go back and work with Disney on a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film.” Depp said yes, revealing publicly that he was done playing his most commercially successful role. Depp’s talent manager testified that the actor lost a $22.5 million deal for a sixth “Pirates” film after Heard’s op-ed accusing him of domestic abuse was published.
Depp’s run as Captain Jack came during a time when American movie franchises were still driven by top actors as opposed to the IP-driven market fueled by the dominance of superhero films over the past decade. But Bruckheimer says that even in this new normal, “Marvel and DC still want a really strong actor.”
“I still get the same list of ten men the studios want in a movie. You still get Tom [Cruise], Leonardo [DiCaprio]. Get one of these big names and you’ve got a good shot at getting a movie made,” Bruckheimer said, adding Brad Pitt and Chris Hemsworth as other actors he sees as bankable stars, though when it comes to women, he says that it is “just not that strong a list yet,” Robbie notwithstanding.
Bruckheimer’s latest film, “Top Gun: Maverick,” has given the producer a chance to reflect on how his job has changed. While the main directive is the same — entertain the masses — Bruckheimer noted that while the first “Top Gun” was made specifically for an American audience and could get away with unconvincingly disguising the film’s Soviet enemy fighters as anonymous foes, “Maverick” can’t do the same in an era where overseas box office numbers are as important as domestic ones.
“You don’t want to shut off markets,” he said. “When you make an expensive movie you want to give the studio the best opportunity to make money. It has got harder. You have to figure out a way to create a villain who is multinational or doesn’t have a home.”
“Top Gun: Maverick” hits theaters on Memorial Day weekend.