Red the Pirate of the Caribbean Movie is Dead.The Dark Herald
Okay, you might not know what that means.
During Peter Rice’s heyday at Disney, all kinds of really and obviously terrible projects got the green light. This was one of them.
In the early 00s Eisener got a bug up his ass about making park rides into movies. He had one bomb with Haunted Mansion but more than made up for it with the Pirates of the Caribbean. If you watched any of the behind scenes stuff you could tell pretty quickly that everyone on the set was hyper-revved up over making an Errol Flynn-style pirate movie. Even the extras were totally into it. Energy came through on screen and Pirates was suddenly a money-making machine for Disney, Bruckheimer, and especially Johnny Depp.
Truth be said, Pirates of the Caribbean was much more a curse than a blessing to Depp. People don’t really remember it today but he wasn’t all that high on the Hollywood totem pole when Pirates was shot. He’d been the star of the 21 Jump Street TV show and headlined in some medium-performing Tim Burton movies but that said, he was more in the, “Oh hey, it’s the Guy from that Thing!” Level of famous.
He had also been very much into the LA club scene and that meant a LOT of drugs. Pirates came along when he was forty and he was trying to stay clean. He had young kids and was trying to be a man they could respect, probably why he agreed to do a Disney movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean pretty much destroyed his life. He was suddenly in a position of not being able to go anywhere and was under unbelievable pressure from all directions. He also had way more money than he could handle. Like I’ve said, power doesn’t corrupt. Power reveals. Once you have power, you will suddenly be doing all of the things you ever wanted to do. Mostly, Depp wanted to do exotic, designer drugs. So, he did.
It was clear that he wanted out but he also didn’t have a lot of self-control when it came to the kind of mega-purchases he could make and the drugs didn’t help with that.
After the first Pirates Trilogy was done he wanted out and was pretty clear about it. Problem; there was clearly blood to be squeezed out of that stone, and Disney was willing to cut him the kind of paycheck that the board of directors has to approve as a strategic investment. Just to get Captain Jack Sparrow back.
If we are all being honest here, none of them were very good. They were overpriced dumb fun.
But it had a big worldwide audience and there was a guaranteed level of entertainment. Pirates of the Caribbean was kind of like the Kentucky Fried Chicken of movie making, you knew it wouldn’t be great but it would be just good enough.
Then came the Trump election, #MeToo, and Depp’s marriage to a woman who is allegedly quite high on the Dark Triad. She made a lot of claims regarding physical abuse, and all of a sudden Disney was no longer all that keen on Captain Jack no matter how well he sold in China.
And truth be said, Pirates V had underperformed. It pulled in $800 million. But that was against a budget of $230 million and a big chunk of that was Depp’s paycheck.
Super Woke super chief, Peter Rice had been brought in during the Fox buy out and he apparently felt that it was time for the franchise to have a Bold Reimagining. Iger seems to have thought so too.
Disney Parks regulars were mad as hell when they found out that the Pirates ride was getting a completely unwanted and politically motivated update. There used to be a part of the ride called the Wife Auction, where captured wenches were auctioned off as brides to the pirates. Sane people never took it seriously. Anyway, the star of the show was The Redhead, who clearly didn’t mind being on the block and was determined to draw the highest bidder.
Rather practical when you think about it.
The virtue signal was announced long and loud beforehand that after 40 years of giving ‘tis peak ankle,’ The Redhead was now going to be Red the Pirate.
It did not go over well. The ride’s fans detested it. Disney being Disney, both pursued it while making bank off the fan outrage. They were selling all kinds of “We wants the Redhead” merch in the Pirates gift shop while having Red the Pirate strolling around the park for meet and greets.
Finally came the completely expected announcement of Margot Robbie having been signed to play Red the Pirate in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Right before Covid hit.
Depp for his part had been doing alright as the evil wizard Grindelwald. Right up until Warner Brothers shitcanned him and made it publicly plain that it was because he was a filthy wife-beater. He was officially a pariah in Tinsel Town.
Things were pretty rough for Johnny Depp, right up until the judge agreed to let the trial be broadcast. Very quickly it became obvious that Depp had indeed been defamed, and that his ex-wife had taken advantage of a drug addict.
It was even more obvious that firing him off the last Grindelwald movie had been a profoundly stupid idea.
I am realistic about Johnny Depp and his failings and a lot of his troubles were of the “giving whisky and car keys to a 12-year-old” variety. The truth about Depp is that he is a musician that fell into acting thanks to a friend getting him some work when he was literally starving. I’m NOT saying all musicians spend their lives in constant search of utter debauchery (no matter what my brother says) but I will say the stereotype is based in reality. Depp does seem to inspire tremendous personal loyalty, but his impulse control issues are obvious.
Anyway, back to Red the Pirate. She isn’t happening. This week Margot Robbie announced that the project was dead.
To anybody with an ounce of sense the whole thing looked like another Cut Throat Island (1995), of course, few at Disney have even an half ounce to spare these days but without Peter Rice ramrodding it ran out steam. Jerry Bruckheimer was producing it but he was never a fan of the idea.
This now brings us to the question: will Johnny Depp be returning to the part of Captain Jack Sparrow? At the trial, he swore there was no amount of money that would make him go back to Disney.
I hope he sticks with that but the truth is, he has impulse control issues.