One of Disney’s greatest cash cows may finally be heading to the slaughterhouse as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ struggles to find a path to a sixth film. ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ released this past year to lukewarm critical reviews and even more middling financial reception. “Dead Men Tell No Tales’ was the first film in the series to fail to hit the $200 million mark within the United States but it still managed to get to nearly $800 million globally, making it the 4th best earning film in the series. Now, the future of the series is in serious doubt and it might come down to a home video release to save the franchise.
The first film in the ‘Pirates’ franchise released in 2003 and over the past 15 years we have seen six total films released on the slate. Each consequential film has gotten more and more middling reviews despite the overall success of their box office numbers. While the Summer of 2017 was notoriously bad for big budget products, just look at how ‘The Dark Tower’ fared, many thought that one of Disney’s flagship programs would have been immune to the process. There are reasons that many people are beginning to doubt the ‘Pirates’ franchise and not all of them can be saved by great numbers on home video.
To start off with, the formula for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ has begun to wear thin from a critical standpoint. Jack Sparrow, played typically to perfection by Johnny Depp, gets into a range of problems while being hunted down by one mythical legend or another. Eventually he uses his wits and eccentricities to escape and win the day just so he can repeat the process. To continue, fans seem to be really missing the core trio from the first series of films — Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner and Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Turner. Fortunately for us the end of ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ opened up a return option for their characters. Finally, Johnny Depp himself has been going through public trials that have made him less than sympathetic to some viewers at home, though we doubt children, the primary audience, are aware of these.
Initially ‘Pirates 6’ was supposed to be filmed on the heels of ‘Pirates 5’. However, middling numbers halted the production and now Disney is waiting to see if home video sales can pick up enough steam to warrant further consideration.