Report: Disney Could Save $90 Million by Cutting Johnny Depp out of ‘Pirates’ Franchise

January 3, 2019 Updated: January 3, 2019

Disney might save $90 million by cutting Johnny Depp out of future “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, according to a new report.

Forbes magazine said that Depp’s salary for the last “Pirates” film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” released in 2017, was $90 million. It said he would likely receive at least the same sum for the next movie.

According to Forbes, Depp was heavily involved in creating the film’s script, saying he was a “writing partner.” He wasn’t given any writing credit for “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and Jeff Nathanson was billed as the writer of the script.

“The screenwriter for ‘Dead Men’ was Jeff Nathanson, who delivered a soldierly, if extravagantly cobbled-together product, while being saddled with—you guessed it—Johnny himself as a writing partner or very heavily involved reader, take your pick,” said Forbes.

Since Depp was heavily involved in the “Pirates” franchise for more than a decade, “we can fairly estimate that the scenes involving his character would be some of the more highly wrought, if not overthought, set pieces ever to see the silver screen,” the report added.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” was the lowest-grossing film of the five-movie series.

According to Box Office Mojo, it made $172,558,876 in the United States and $794,861,794 worldwide on a $230 million budget. Prior “Pirates” movies made much more. The franchise has made more than $4.5 billion overall.

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Actor Johnny Depp before presenting his film at the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, June 22, 2017. (Dylan Martinez/File Photo/Reuters)

Last month, Disney’s production head, Sean Bailey, essentially confirmed Depp’s departure.

“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 Hollywood 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.

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Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” (Peter Mountain/Walt Disney)

“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.”

Meanwhile, the original scriptwriter, Stuart Beattie in October seemingly confirmed 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.

“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,” Beattie said of Depp.

Before “Pirates,” the actor was best known for cult films such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” and “Edward Scissorhands.”

“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,” Beattie said.