The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has now been running for over a decade – it was 13 years last August – and as we face the release of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (aka Dead Men Tell No Tales, now also aka Salazar's Revenge in the UK) we have to acknowledge that it will probably outlive all of us.
We've been hearing about the fifth film (yes, fifth) for so long that it had started to feel like it might never actually come out, but it'll finally hit cinemas in May of 2017.
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 release date: Why has it taken so long?
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales/Salazar's Revenge is scheduled for release on May 26, 2017, by which time it will have been six years since POTC: On Stranger Tides, aka The One With Penelope Cruz. So why the wait? Mostly, you can blame The Lone Ranger. Disney took a big gamble on Depp's ability to headline another action franchise with another kooky performance, and it backfired so hard that the studio rolled way back on their commitment to Pirates.
After The Lone Ranger flopped in 2013, it took several months before a fifth Pirates movie was officially green-lit, and the release date was pushed back thanks to some scripting and budget issues. The final script is written by Jeff Nathanson (known for Catch Me If You Can at best, and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull at worst), with the franchise's long-time writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio not returning.
There's a lot of new blood behind the scenes, with Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg stepping in – they're best known for 2012's Oscar-nominated Kon-Tiki. And the goal is reportedly to make Pirates 5 much closer to the first film in tone. Here's hoping.
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 plot: Mystical MacGuffin
You basically know the storyline. There's a mystical MacGuffin – the Trident of Poseidon, this time – which everybody's searching for. Jack Sparrow particularly needs to get his hands on it because a gang of ghost pirates is trying to kill him, and the Trident will give him absolute power over the seas.
That gang of ghost pirates is led by a new villain, Javier Bardem's Captain Salazar, who's determined to kill every single pirate on the seas but especially his old enemy, Jack Sparrow. We're not sure where Geoffrey Rush's regular villain Captain Barbossa figures into all this, but he's back, as is Orlando Bloom's Will Turner (who has already hinted at his role in the movie).
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 trailer: Jack's back, but guess who else is...
When the very first trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge arrived, the biggest shock was that Jack Sparrow wasn't actually even in it. Instead it was a VERY murky and somewhat spooky tease that gives us a look at Javier Bardem's drooling undead Captain Salazar and fresh faced Henry Turner.
The trailer seems to indicate we could be looking at a much darker instalment that's a way away from Pirates 4. If so, we say Aye Captain!
We got another cheeky glimpse at the Superbowl. And this did include a very muddy Jack Sparrow. *Muted yey*.
Though it does maintain that murky look and kicks of with a zombie seagull so that's promising.
Another trailer has given us a first look at a rather crusty Orlando Bloom in his cursed, Davey Jones form.
And this final international trailer has revealed another very significant - and vaguely spoilerish - returning character. That's right, we said SPOILERISH...
It's Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swan. Wait, what? Yep. She's back. At least in some form...
Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Hiya, Kaya!
Will's old flame Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) won't be re-joining him, so there's a new and "very different" female lead in the mix, played by Skins alum Kaya Scodelario. She'll be playing astronomer Carina Smyth, who may or may not be a love interest for Jack Sparrow (let's hope not, she's even younger than Amber Heard), and may or may not be Barbossa's daughter.
Speaking of offspring, the other major new player is Henry Turner. The reports on this are a bit sketchy, but it sounds very much as though Brenton Thwaites (who is closer to Scodelario's age and therefore a more likely love interest) will be playing Will Turner's son, who's on a mission to reconnect with his cursed dad.
Oh, and Paul McCartney is in it. Because why not?
Will there be a Pirates of the Caribbean 6?
Almost inevitably, assuming this one makes money and assuming Depp is in a position to return. Originally it was reported that Disney would shoot the fifth and sixth movies back to back – as they did with Pirates 2 & 3 – but only Dead Men Tell No Tales ended up being shot.
Depp has said that he's happy to keep playing Jack Sparrow for as long as audiences enjoy the character, and Bloom has hinted at another film, so unless the franchise's fortunes change dramatically, we'd expect Pirates 6 to go ahead as planned. That being said, there is another possibility...
Is this actually a franchise reboot in disguise?
Could be. The casting of Thwaites and Scodelario does hint at a POTC: The Next Generation vibe, and Bloom has pretty much confirmed that a soft reboot is at least on the table.
"Basically they want to reboot the whole franchise, I think, and do something with me and the relationship with my son," he told IGN in 2014.
So could Dead Men Tell No Tales see Jack Sparrow bow out and pass the pirate baton to Will Turner, or even to his son? That feels like a risk for a franchise so dependent on its eccentric lead character, but stranger things have happened. Did we mention Paul McCartney?
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