‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Prequel, ‘The Spirit of the Sea,’ Revealed WITH Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl poster, featuring Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, and Geoffrey Rush

Credit: Disney

For those clued into the entertainment industry, it would have been hard to miss the controversy surrounding Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, over the last few years. Since 2016, the pair have been locked in legal battles, with 2022’s highly-publicized defamation case in Fairfax County, Virginia, bringing the end to the courtroom drama.

Actor Johnny Depp, who gained international recognition for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, has been far from the blockbuster spotlight in recent years, but now, his part in the Pirates of the Caribbean prequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Spirit of the Sea, has been revealed.

Johnny Depp looking sad in a white suit in The Tourist
Credit: Columbia Pictures

Pirates of the Caribbean and Disney

What are the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a collection of five feature films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and distributed by The Walt Disney Company’s Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Based on the classic theme park ride found in Disney parks like Disneyland Park (Anaheim, Southern California) and Magic Kingdom (Orlando, Central Florida), the series follows an ensemble cast in a supernatural, seafaring adventure.

Gore Verbinski directed the first three installments, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), before heading over the keys to the kingdom to Rob Marshall, who helmed the fourth entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011).

'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' logo
Credit: Disney

Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg handled the fifth, and at present, final Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), which was released internationally as Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge.

While being inspired by the Disney Parks attraction, the Pirates of the Caribbean film series is rooted in the history and happenings of the Golden Age of Piracy, which took place between 1650 and 1730.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl poster, featuring Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, and Geoffrey Rush
Credit: Disney

Who is in the cast of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

The Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise boasts of a sprawling ensemble cast. The first three movies, The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, and At World’s End, primarily feature Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley in leading roles.

Playing Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann, respectively, the trio were joined by the likes of Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Bill Nighy as Davy Jones, Jack Davenport as James Norrington, Jonathan Pryce as Governor Swann, Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma, Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti, and Martin Klebba as Marty. The Rolling Stones band member Keith Richards also starred as Captain Edward Teague.

Later installments in the franchise starred Penelope Cruz as Angelica, Javier Bardem as Armando Salazar, and Ian McShane as Blackbeard.

Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Credit: Disney

How much did the Pirates of the Caribbean movies take at the box office?

The Pirates of the Caribbean film series is the 15th-highest-grossing movie franchise of all time, netting $4.5 billion at the global box office across the release of the five films. The Curse of the Black Pearl took $654 million; Dead Man’s Chest took just short of $1.1 billion; At World’s End took $963 million; On Stranger Tides replicated Dead Man’s Chest‘s takings of nearly $1.1 billion; Dead Men Tell No Tales ended the franchise with $795 million.

At the time of its release, Rob Marshall’s On Stranger Tides was considered the most expensive movie ever made after production costs came in at a staggering $370 million. Eventually, it was surpassed by the likes of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), and Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Jack Sparrow and Angelica wade through the water
Credit: Disney

Johnny Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean

Who does Johnny Depp play in Pirates of the Caribbean?

Actor Johnny Depp stars as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. First appearing in The Curse of the Black Pearl, Johnny Depp has gone on to star in every installment in the franchise, becoming so popular that the Disney Parks ride eventually added Depp’s arrogant yet charming pirate to the classic ride, which inspired the movie series.

Depp made his film debut back in 1984 in The Nightmare on Elm Street, where he played Glen Lantz. His career would blossom in the late 80s and 90s, frequently collaborating with director Tim Burton on films like Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), and Sleepy Hollow (1999). Other credits for Depp include Donnie Brasco (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and Chocolat (2000).

Johnny Depp in Ed Wood
Credit: Touchstone

Depp’s appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow marked his most commercial role to date and saw him achieve international recognition for his part in the Pirates franchise. At first, though, there was a chance that Depp’s take on the character could have been changed by the powers that be.

Many years ago, the Pirates actor told GQ that Disney “hated him.” “Disney hated me. [They were] thinking of every way they could to get rid of me, to fire me. ‘Oh, we’re going to have to subtitle him.’ ‘We don’t understand Captain Jack Sparrow. What’s wrong with him?’ ‘What’s wrong with his arms?’ ‘Is he drunk?’ ‘Is he mentally f****** stupefied?’ ‘Is he gay?’” the actor told the publication.

Johnny Depp looking surprised as Captain Jack Sparrow
Credit: Disney

Will Johnny Depp be in Pirates of the Caribbean 6?

Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is an upcoming feature film in the ongoing swashbuckling franchise. There is no release date at present, but producer Jerry Bruckheimer is positive about the current screenplay progress being made. Speaking out earlier this year at the 95th Academy Awards, Bruckheimer told Entertainment Tonight he “would love” for Johnny Depp to come back for the sixth installment.

At one time, no one would expect a new Pirates of the Caribbean film without Johnny Depp, but, the legal battles, domestic abuse allegations, and controversies that have arisen over the last few years have put the brakes on Depp’s continuation in the franchise.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney’s New “‘Pirates of the Caribbean’” Franchise Scrapped, Report Says

Depp married fellow actress Amber Heard in 2015 (the pair starred together four years previously in The Rum Diary), but just a year later, in 2016, Heard filed for divorce, citing verbal and physical abuse, and took out a restraining order against her husband.

What followed was almost seven years of litigation, including a libel and a defamation lawsuit in two different continents. During the beginning of that fallout, Depp remained in high-profile movies such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff, the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Depp appeared in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). He was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen due to his loss at the London High Court in 2020.

Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the rally in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'
Credit: Warner Bros.

After the News Group Newspapers-owned The Sun published that Depp was a “wife-beater,” the actor sued the publication for libel. The trial, presided over by Justice Andrew Nicol, was a highly publicized affair, with both Depp and Heard testifying in the court case. Justice Nicol eventually found many of the counts of domestic abuse “substantially true” and later rejected Depp’s appeal request in early 2021. He was out of Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts and clearly out of any future installments of Pirates of the Caribbean.

However, while Depp did lose his court case against News Group Newspapers, support for the actor never wavered. Over time, trends like #JusticeForJohnnyDepp blew up online, joined by others such as #FireAmberHeard. The latter is regarding the visual references for the domestic abuse case that many believe are fabricated and her position as Mera in Warner Bros.’s other franchise, the DC Extended Universe. There was also the case of the resurfaced audio, where it can be heard that the DC actress said that no one would believe a man could be subjected to domestic abuse.

Amber Heard as Mera in Aquaman
Credit: DC Studios

As the time before the defamation trial in Virginia shortened, pre-trial meetings were held, with topics of Heard’s divorce settlement donations being a major focus for Depp’s legal team. In April 2022, the defamation case began.

Spawned from Heard’s 2018 Op-Ed in The Washington Post, Depp sued the actress for $50 million, with Heard countersuing for $100 million. After six weeks of trial proceedings under the jurisdiction of Judge Penney Azcarate, the jury found Heard had defamed Depp on all three counts pertaining to the claims in the essay, with Depp being found guilty of defamation on one count.

Amber Heard with daughter in Joshua Tree
Credit: Amber Heard, Instagram

Related: Keanu Reeves Replaced Johnny Depp In Billion-Dollar Franchise

They awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The latter, due to state law, was lowered to $350,000. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages.

Since this win in Virginia, Depp has not returned to blockbuster films. He starred in 2020’s Minamata and this year appeared as King Louis XV in MaÏwenn’s Jeanne du Barry (2023). The actor is currently directing Modi, starring Al Pacino, in Budapest, Hungary.

Johnny Depp as King Louis XV in Maiwenn's 'Jeanne Du Barry'
Credit: Why Not Productions

Will Johnny Depp be in any Pirates of the Caribbean spinoffs?

As Johnny Depp’s removal from Pirates of the Caribbean became more and more apparent, it was confirmed that Academy Award-nominated actress Margot Robbie would lead the franchise. This came after reports that Guardians of the Galaxy actress Karen Gillan was tapped to star in a Pirates spinoff.

Eventually, Robbie would state the Pirates film was dead in the water, but Bruckheimer would clarify this comment, stating the spinoff was on pause while the focus was put on Pirates of the Caribbean 6.

Margot Robbie as Barbie
Credit: Warner Bros.

The Pirates of the Caribbean Prequel

What is the Pirates of the Caribbean prequel?

The Pirates of the Caribbean prequel, titled Pirates of the Caribbean: The Spirit of the Sea, was due to debut in 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Unlike the movies that came before it, The Spirit of the Sea was set to be an immersive experience under the Secret Cinema brand.

Known for its blend of audience interaction and cinema magic, Secret Cinema’s past worlds include James Bond and Casino Royale, Stranger Things, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Stranger Things would be the last Secret Cinema project to debut before the industry-wide shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Millie Bobby Brown and FInn Wolfhard in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Now, new information has been revealed about one of the planned concepts for the Secret Cinema — Pirates of the Caribbean, or as it was referenced, “Project Outlaw.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Spirit of the Sea was to act as a prequel to the five-movie franchise, with eventgoers joining “one of six factions in their journey to Tortuga,” Immersive Rumours notes. The inclusion of Pirates of the Caribbean at Secret Cinema came as part of a deal between Disney and Secret Cinema, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter in 2020. Disney StudiosLAB would be the outfit that partnered with Secret Cinema to bring the worlds of Disney movies to life.

But the pandemic scuppered many plans, with last year’s Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy – The Live Experience being the first collaboration between the pair. Images have been released of how some of the other projects may have looked, including Pirates of the Caribbean: The Spirit of the Sea, which came complete with Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.

Concept art of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Spirit of the Sea featuring Johnny Depp and Naomie Harris
Credit: Immersive Rumours/Parlour

The concept art, which can be viewed here, shows various interiors and exteriors, as well as renderings of Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and Naomie Harris’ Tia Dalma. The creative directors for the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Spirit of the Sea prequel were listed as Tom Maller and Miguel Hernando Torres Umba.

Will audiences ever get to see the Pirates of the Caribbean prequel?

It’s not clear whether The Spirit of Sea will ever get revisited. Although, now that Depp is open to returning to the franchise if the project is right, it wouldn’t be surprising if Disney’s collab with Secret Cinema had the seafaring caper still in their back pocket.

Would you have liked to see this Pirates of the Caribbean prequel? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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