The fifth and most recent Pirates film was by far the series’ lowest-grossing in the U.S.
Image: Disney

What happens when the latest installment of your multi-billion dollar franchise grosses less than $200 million domestic? Yup, it’s time for a reboot.

Deadline reports Disney is exploring the possibility of rebooting the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and has met with Deadpool and Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick about writing the script. Jerry Bruckheimer would still remain on as a producer, but there’s no word if any of the previous cast members would come back to star. That’s the nice way of saying there’s no indication if this is a way to gracefully part ways with the problematic Johnny Depp.

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Reese and Wernick are reportedly in “early talks” to write the script, which means that even if this is locked in, we’re years away from not just the movie, but accurate, concrete information about it. What we do know, though, is the most recent installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, was a huge disappointment in the U.S., grossing only $172 million. That’s in comparison to four previous movies, which grossed an average of $320 million stateside. Internationally Dead Men faired way better, grossing almost $800 million—but that was still almost $250 million behind the heights of the franchise. All signs pointed to Pirates being dead in the water.

If this potential reboot happens, though, the biggest question mark will be Depp. The actor drove those first five films in every way imaginable. He was even nominated for an Oscar for the first movie. The franchise needs a big star, Depp delivered, and while the actor’s personal life has made him a liability in the eyes of many, can you imagine Pirates of the Caribbean without him? I’m guessing most people can’t, which could pose a problem. Then again, how hard would it be to put him in old age make up for one day, have him die and pass along some knowledge to his son? Boom, reboot.

This is a fascinating story that we will continue to keep an eye on. But, for now, know that Disney isn’t sinking Pirates of the Caribbean—the series is adapted from its famous theme-park ride, after all—it’s trying very hard to give it a new anchor.

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