In 2017, Lee Alfred II and Ezequiel Martinez Jr. sued Disney over the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and Disney is still attempting to sink their ship — but can’t.
Lee Alfred II and Ezequiel Martinez Jr. claim that “their spec script defied pirate topes by having Davy Jones be funny instead of fearsome, and their work was plundered to create Jack Sparrow after their producer sent it to Disney.” The lawsuit was between a 2000 spec and the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. In 2019, District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall granted its motion to dismiss as the Judge deemed that the similarities were “largely unprotectable generic pirate fare.”
That being said, in 2020, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals brought the case back because “the screenplay shares sufficient similarities with the film to survive a motion to dismiss.” Because Pirates of the Caribbean have outlined what most identify as a “pirate-trope,” the motion to appeal was granted because the spec script similarities may have been the ones to have shaped that.
The Hollywood Reporter states:
Alfred and Martinez filed an amended complaint, and now Marshall has denied Disney’s motion for summary judgment because of conflicting expert testimony.
Disney is arguing that the experts that were brought in on behalf of Lee Alfred II and Ezequiel Martinez Jr. were not experts in the “pirate” genre District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall noted:
“These arguments go to the weight of Plaintiffs’ expert report, and the Court cannot weigh evidence on summary judgment.
Plaintiffs’ expert opines that the parties’ works are substantially similar and have original elements in common, whereas Defendant’s expert opines that the parties’ works are not substantially similar and common elements in the parties’ works are common in the pirate genre generally. The opinions from the parties’ experts thus creates a genuine issue of material fact in dispute regarding whether the works are substantially similar.”
At the moment, there has been no decisions made on this case, but it seems that Disney will find themselves in court for one of their lucrative properties.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been under fire as a whole after Disney decided to boot Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow) from the franchise. Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard have been entangled in a lawsuit for quite some time after Heard claimed Depp abused her. Depp has claimed that her allegations are false and untrue, and now, the pair is in a $150 million battle that will come to a close next spring. Although Depp has not been convicted of any crime, he has seen the repercussions of Heard’s public allegations.
The actor lost a defamation battle against U.K. tabloid The Sun, who sided with Heard; he then also lost his appeal battle against the corporation. Since then, Depp has said that Hollywood has “boycotted” him. He lost his role as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films after Disney booted the actor from the franchise, as well as his role in the Fantastic Beasts franchise with Warner Bros.
This has caused fans to sign petitions to bring him back to the franchise, as well as threaten to boycott any future films. At the moment, there are two films that are seemingly being developed. One is a film that takes place in the same universe as the previous films but will have an entirely new storyline with a female-led cast starring Margot Robbie. The second is Pirates of the Caribbean 6, which would theoretically be a continuation of the first five films, written by Craig Mazin and Ted Elliott.
What do you think of this ongoing legal battle? Let us know in the comments below!