The Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise has been sitting on ice since the fourth installment, On Stranger Tides, was released in theaters in 2011. Although On Stranger Tides was yet another massive commercial success for the swashbuckling adventure series (grossing over a billion dollars at the global box office), the tepid critical and general audience response to the film signaled that “Jack Sparrow fatigue” might be setting in. It might have been for related reasons that Disney took its time with the pre-production process before moving ahead on the fifth addition to the series; one entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and again featuring Johnny Depp as Captain Sparrow.
Disney recently unveiled a Dead Men Tell No Tales teaser trailer that only featured a Sparrow appearance by way of a Wanted poster, featuring the rascally pirate’s illustrated likeness. It’s not altogether clear yet who or what organization is responsible for issuing that Wanted poster calling for Jack’s capture this time – but they’re not the only ones who are after Sparrow in the film. As both the teaser trailer and official synopsis for Dead Men Tell No Tales reveal, Captain Jack is now being pursued by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his – seemingly undead – followers; pirates who spent several years trapped in the mystical Devil’s Triangle and are now determined to kill every living pirate on the high seas, starting (?) with ol’ Captain Jack. Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning has now revealed another Wanted poster featuring Jack Sparrow (one that is different from the one in the trailer – see the screenshot above) on his Instagram account too:
Dead Men Tell No Tales does seem to have the potential to be a solid return to form for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise; what with the film’s teaser trailer bringing the franchise back to its roots in sea-faring action/adventure with a (Disney-approved) supernatural horror twist. Changes behind the scenes on this installment might have helped in this respect. Whereas On Stranger Tides was helmed by Rob Marshall, a filmmaker whose specializes more in the musical genre (see his work on Chicago and Into the Woods), Dead Men Tell No Tales directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg previously helmed the acclaimed historical sea-faring adventure Kon-Tiki, in addition to establishing the tone and aesthetic for Netflix’s historical epic series, Marco Polo, by directing its first two episodes.
In fact, the bigger wild card factor here might be Captain Jack himself – or rather, Johnny Depp. Although there was a time, after the first Pirates of the Caribbean film was released, when Depp was regarded as being a strong box office draw, his commercial misses over this past five years or so (see: Dark Shadows, Transcendence, Mortdecai, The Lone Ranger, and so on) far outnumber his hits during that same period. Following the weak box office turnout for the Depp-led Disney sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass earlier this year, it might be for related reasons that the Dead Men Tell No Tales teaser doesn’t feature Depp in the flesh.
Instead, the Dead Men Tell No Tales teaser focuses more on getting everyone excited for the return of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series in general. Of course Jack will inevitably pop up during a future trailer (as the new poster reminds everyone), but it will be interesting to see how the film’s marketing hereon forward utilizes him, given Depp’s diminished star-power. As both The Lone Ranger and the Alice in Wonderland sequel have now illustrated, Depp plus Disney alone doesn’t necessarily equal a big hit nowadays. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in U.S. theaters on May 26th, 2017.