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How much "Pirates" is too much "Pirates" ?

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How much "Pirates" is too much "Pirates" ?

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I have to admit - given that no one (outside of the folks who are currently working 'round the clock to finish up "Dead Man's Chest" 's over-1500 FX shots) has actually seen the finished version of "Pirates of the Caribbean II" - that it seems kind of odd to now be talking about what may lie out beyond "Pirates III."

But let's remember that the key word in the phrase "show business" is "business," folks. And given that Walt Disney Studios has spent the past 20 years trying to develop its very own viable film franchise (Remember "Dick Tracy"? Or - better yet - "The Rocketeer"? Or "V.I. Warshawski"? Or "Judge Dredd"?) … Well, now that the Mouse has "Pirates," Disney's going to do everything it can to insure that all that pirate gold continues to roll into the company coffers for years yet to come.

Don't believe me? Then let's talk about "Pirates IV." I know, I know. Gore Verbinski hasn't even finished filming "At World's End" (I.E. The tentative title for the third installment in the series) yet. And - to be honest - everyone at the studio is kind of pirated-out at the moment. Which is why (strictly as a change of pace) many people at Disney are now looking forward to the production of that other Jerry Bruckheimer sequel, "National Treasure II."

But even so, the folks in the studio's strategic planning office are already looking out over the horizon (I.E. Toward 2010 & 2011). And they're wondering if - three to four years after the third "Pirates" picture finally hits theaters - if audiences might then be ready for yet another film starring Captain Jack Sparrow.

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Of course, the real key here will be whether or not Disney can successfully persuade Johnny Depp to once again put on his pirate gear. Given that Johnny's soon to be in for one hell of a payday (Once "Pirates II" & "III" recover their full production & marketing costs [Rumored to be upwards of $600 million], Depp, Verbinksi & several other key members of the "Pirates" cast & production team will reportedly split 25% of those sequels' earnings. Which could eventually add up to tens of millions of dollars for Johnny), this Academy Award nominee will never have to work again.

But what's working in Disney's favor here is that Depp seems to genuinely enjoy playing Captain Jack Sparrow. In a recent Time Magazine article, Johnny was quoted as saying:

"I truly love the character and I didn't feel I'd had enough of him in the first (film)."

Which is why Depp ultimately agreed to get his teeth capped again and then play Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates II" & "III."

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Mind you, just because Johnny enjoys playing Captain Jack doesn't automatically mean that he's a lock for "Pirates IV." But Bruckheimer is optimistic enough about this film series continuing that he's allegedly having the sets for "Pirates II" & "III" stored. With the hope that - in three or four years' time - Jerry will then be able to haul these props & costumes out again. So that Gore & Johnny will then have something familiar to work with as they begin production of the fourth film.

Of course, in the meantime, it's up to the Walt Disney Company to keep the "Pirates" franchise fresh. To make sure that the public stays interested & emotionally invested in these colorful characters. So that they then stay evergreen.

Which explains why expensive new Audio Animatronic versions of Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbarossa are now being folded into both the Disneyland & Walt Disney World versions of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park attraction. But how many of you know about the new "Jack Sparrow" junior novelizations …

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That Disney Press has recently begun producing? Which detail Jack's career prior to captaining the Black Pearl. Back when Sparrow was just a teenage stowaway trying to make a name for himself in pirating circles.

These softcover books are designed to keep preteens interested in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise. As is the "Pirates" comic …

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

… that regularly appears in "Disney Adventure" & "Disney Comics" magazines.

Of course, to keep teenagers interested in this new Disney brand, the Mouse had to mount something much more elaborate: Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Where - quoting this website's advertising slogan now - "The most notorious pirate in the Caribbean … is you."

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Though this ambitious & massive multiplayer game isn't actually expected to go live 'til 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean Online is already generating huge buzz. The very idea that you'll be soon able to create your very own captain character, then assemble a crew and go off in search of treasure & adventure. Where you'll then have to battle other players on their own ships with sword & cannon … Well, that has gamers just chomping at the bit to be selected as one of the beta testers for this new online game.

Speaking of which, Disney's Virtual Reality Studio is already recruiting beta testers. So if you want to be among the first to experience the online approximation of Captain Jack Sparrow's world, you might want to drop by www.DisneyPirates.com today and register.

Anyway, Disney hopes that this online game - with its clever mix of swashbuckling daring-do & teen-friendly scares (Check out this cool concept sketch for an undead pirate) …

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

… Plus the comic books & the junior novelizations & the theme park rides will help keep the "Pirates" film franchise alive. At least until Mr. Depp decides whether or not he's ready to commit to doing "Pirates IV."

But what do you folks think? Is Disney really over-thinking this? Should the studio have waited to see if audiences actually embraced "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" before commiting all of these other "Pirates" sequels & spin-offs? Or was "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" already a big enough success to warrant this sort of ambitious investment in a brand-new franchise for the Walt Disney Company?

More importantly, were Johnny Depp to actually agree to appear in "Pirates IV," do you think that you'll still be still interested in seeing a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" film in five year's time?

Your thoughts?

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  • captain jack sparrow and the entire franchise of 'pirates' movies are as original as can be. in this day of remakes and rediculous movie ideas, it is good t see some old fashioned moviemaking. the first movie was fun, and i am sure the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. would be also. as long as the stories don't get to involved, i.e. the star wars franchise. an original character with fun, not too serious storylines, i.e. indiana jones, is great for movies. just don't start calling them films, therein would be the beginning of the end.
  • In 5 years, most teenagers won't be teenagers anymore.  More than anything, the dvd's that get replayed over and over will keep the franchise alive. I didn't go to the 3rd Indiana Jones or the 4th Lethal Weapon or the 17th James Bond because of the comic book or internet game.
    Make as many as you want, but get a better editor.
  • Perhaps a better question would be - how much "Pooh" is too much "Pooh"?
  • I did read somewhere a while back that  Johnny Depp would be interested in making more Pirate films.And seeing that Mr Depp has previously stated he wants to make movies that his kids can go watch I think its a possibility.And I think thats a main factor in all the more family style movies he's been doing lately like Corspe Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Disney have a good thing going here with the Pirates Of The Carribean franchise and as long as it makes enough money and everyone involved enjoys making these movies,then I don't see why in a few years time we can't have POTC IV
  • I think that "Dead Man's Chest" will be an even bigger success than the first.  Many people that didn't see the movie in the theater have since seen it on DVD, and many of them will go see the new one in the theater.  I think all of this Pirates "stuff" is great; I'm glad that little boys will have their own franchise.
  • My thing is, if they do in fact go with a fourth Pirates movie, they can easily introduce a new pirate hero and replace Johnny should he not want to come back.  For all we know, Jack Sparrow's story arc ends in part 3.  They can easily follow Will Turner, or Chow Yun Fat's character, or again, a new pirate, in the fourth, thus effectively creating a new trilogy while keeping the Pirates theme going.    
  • The lesson of The Matrix sequels is wait and see.  Fabulous first film, amazing sequel buzz, excellent marketing and cross promotion, and then the sequels???  The sequels not only killed the franchise--but also killed the cult following of the first movie.  And yes, there are at least two theme park attractions based on The MAtrix, both at overseas WB parks.  But the Matrix isn't much of a draw anymore.  Hopefully these films are excellent.  I'm looking forward to seeing a good summer flick.  But it's way too early to start talking about 2011.
  • It's interesting to me that on another thread some people are screaming bloody murder over Disney's delving into Tinkerbell's past in order to expand the franchise, yet so far there's nary a peep over here when Diz does the same to Jack Sparrow. At any rate I think this idea rocks too. As long as quality is injected into the product, I'll take a look at it.
  • I think that Johnny will play Captain Jack for as long as possible. And I think that if Johnny had decided not to return, the movies wouldn't be as good with just Orlando and Keira (or entirely different people if no one returned). Johnny makes the movies. Without him, pssh.
  • I think three should do just fine. There are arguments to be made that Pirates makes for a good installment type series, James Bond-like, such that each movie's story stands well on it's own, but think what we have here is a little different. The recurring characters aren't static enough, they live separate sorts of lives, and their lives change entirely with every new adventure.

    No, I think Pirates lends itself well only to a progessive-type series, and those types have to culminate in something. Now if that happens in four movies instead of three, that's great and wonderful. But I would very much regret if each movie leads to executives counting cash and saying, "Yep, I guess we'd better make another one." Adventures of this quality deserve a general vision, not tacked on and contrived ways of teaming up Jack Sparrow with Will and Elizabeth yet again.
  • I think there are so many die-hard Pirates fans, it would take a lot of over-do it.

    I think the difference between delving into Jack Sparrow's past v. Tinkerbell's is that Tinkerbell herself is a much older franchise, dating back to Walt's time. Jack Sparrow, while part of the Pirate's franchise, is still a relatively new character. I think that is why people aren't raising a fuss.

    Finally, as far as Mr. Depp never having to work again based on this new Pirate's deal ... I would say, looking at the movies he's made, especially recently, he already wouldn't ever have to work again if that's what he wanted.
  • Tinkerbell's past/ girl group is being put forward in all sorts of media. Captain Jack's is just a series of books which you can take or leave.
  • No, the difference between Tink v. Sparrow is that Pirates' marketing is based on selling an actual hit movie to a willing cash audience.   (Remember when Pirates 1 got virtually no opening-week tie-in marketing whatsoever, since DIsney only saw the movie as an extension of Pressler's "Ride movie" ideas, "Country Bears" had just belly-flopped, and Disney thought the whole idea was over before Pirates had even opened?)
    Here, three years later, Disney knows there *are* people who like the movie and probably going to see the second one, and Diz's so surprised and grateful, they're shaking 'em down for all they're worth.

    While "Disney Fairies" is the opposite, ie. someone ELSE's marketing idea (girls' fairy marketing, and not-so-coincidentally Barbie's version), with a quick surface paste-on overlay of recognizable Disney characters to keep it "in the family"--Much like the interchangeable breakfast cereals quickly re-tailored to fit Pooh, Mickey, or, well...Pirates.  :)
  • englishboy wrote:
    The lesson of The Matrix sequels is wait and see.  Fabulous first film, amazing sequel buzz, excellent marketing and cross promotion, and then the sequels???  The sequels not only killed the franchise--but also killed the cult following of the first movie.
    Also an illustration of WHY to "Wait and see" with sequels to action movies that got by on Saturday-serial energy, quirky humor and affable heroes:

    Usually, the "jinx" is that the second-time writers get a little *too* struck with their own audience-love cuteness and try to "up the ante" with more unnecessary character-banter baggage, a more off-topic storyline, or just other general additions that make it seem as if the franchise got too pleased with itself and went careening off the rails--
    "Matrix Revolution", "IJ & Temple of Doom", "Jewel of the Nile", "Speed II", "Legend of Zorro", "Crocodile Dundee II"....Take your pick.  The Jinx hasn't been broken yet.  -_-
  • DerekJ wrote: The Jinx hasn't been broken yet.  -_-

    Umm, the Empire Strikes Back, Toy Story 2, Aliens, Spiderman 2, the Second Rambo movie.  and those are the ones I thought of in 30 seconds.
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