When the news broke yesterday that “Ant-Man,” Disney and Marvel‘s adaptation of the superhero second-stringer directed by unproven mainstream quantity Edgar Wright, would move from a relatively pressure-free early November release date to the prime time summer slalom of 2015, we wondered if some other Disney project might be moving out of that same crowded field. After all, the studio has “Star Wars: Episode VII” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” due out the same summer, plus another installment in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean‘ franchise. Well, the other shoe had to drop and today it was announced that ‘Pirates 5’ is being delayed.
The Hollywood Reporter is saying that the film will be delayed well beyond its planned summer 2015 release date, which means it isn’t likely to open until the following summer (the ‘Pirates’ movies aren’t really winter fare). Production on the sequel, supposedly titled “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” will still start this fall, except later than expected.
It’s unclear how much the failure of this summer’s “The Lone Ranger” had to do with the delay of ‘Pirates 5.’ That film featured many of the same creative principles that fuel the ‘Pirates’ franchise, most notably star Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, as well as director Gore Verbinski, who helmed the first three ‘Pirates’ entries. At a reported cost of $250 million, the studio later claimed that it would take a $190 million write down on the project, nearly as much as the studio lost on last year’s costly flop “John Carter.”
Early reports said that the studio was restructuring the movie’s massive budget and removing Bruckheimer’s ability to retain final cut. But it seems somewhat foolish to draw a direct comparison between the fifth film in a franchise that has generated billions for the studio and an idiosyncratic adaptation of an unproven, dusty old property that was updated without a proper campaign of public awareness. Nobody knew who The Lone Ranger was; everybody knows who Jack Sparrow is. Plus, this new film is being directed by Norwegian filmmakers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, the directors of last year’s Oscar-nominated “Kon-Tiki,” who were able to fashion David Lean-ian vistas on a very tight budget, and who seem more than willing to play within the parameters of the franchise.
Plus, Disney is still very much in the Johnny Depp business. In addition to the fifth ‘Pirates,’ he’s also starring in an adaptation of the beloved musical “Into the Woods” for the studio (out next Christmas) and a sequel to his $1 billion-grossing “Alice in Wonderland,” this time entitled “Through the Looking Glass” (with Tim Burton replaced by “The Muppets” director James Bobin). Depp also moved his production company Infinitum Nihil to Disney from Warner Bros., suggesting that the two will remain close partners for years to come.
Further fallout from “The Lone Ranger” could still come (it seems kind of strange that there isn’t even a release date for the home video version), but it seems odd to punish a consistently dependable workhorse like ‘Pirates’ for one outrageously expensive bomb.