Johnny Depp, once the top-billing actor in the world, appears to have been dropped from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the blockbuster film series he helped make famous, according to a report.
There were rumors saying Depp, 55, would be jettisoned from the franchise, but now, Disney’s production head, Sean Bailey, essentially confirmed his departure. Depp played Captain Jack Sparrow after 14 years as the lead actor in the series, which has grossed more than $4.5 billion across five films.
“We want to give it a kick in the pants,” Bailey said of the franchise reboot, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which reported that Bailey is mulling “the future of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise without Johnny Depp.”
The Reporter asked him about whether “Pirates” can survive without Depp. In the interview, Bailey doesn’t outright confirm the move but made a strong suggestion.
“We want to bring in a new energy and vitality,” he replied. “I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that’s what I’ve tasked them with.”
Disney met with “Deadpool” writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to come up with a script for the “Pirates” reboot following their success with the superhero movie franchise.
Depp’s last “Pirates of the Caribbean” film was “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” which was the lowest performing of the five movies.
The original scriptwriter, Stuart Beattie, in October appeared to confirm Depp’s ouster, saying the entire franchise will be redone.
“And kids all over the world love him as that character so I think it’s been great for him, it’s been great for us, so I’m just very, very happy about it,” he told the Daily Mail.
Beattie said the first film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” released in 2003, wasn’t expected to be a hit due to Depp’s roles in cult films like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Edward Scissorhands.”
“I think Jack Sparrow will be his legacy. It’s the only character he’s played five times, it’s the character he dresses up in to visit children in hospitals, it’s what he’ll be remembered for,” he said. “Before Jack Sparrow came along, [Depp] was considered this kind of quirky, independent actor that made these really cool little Tim Burton films, but he was by no means a movie star and a lot of people thought we were crazy for casting him at the time.”
He added: “Because he wasn’t a proven commodity; you know, a big movie star. And we were making a big movie and we were putting this quirky, independent actor in the middle of it and people thought we were crazy. The fact that it worked is a miracle.”
“They were certainly nervous watching the rushes every day but when it all came together, something just clicked and it was magic and connected with audiences. I’m proud to be a part of it.”