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Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)

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Pirates of the Caribbean

2007 DVD box set
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Written by Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Starring Johnny Depp
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Geoffrey Rush
Jack Davenport
Jonathan Pryce
Kevin McNally
Mackenzie Crook
Lee Arenberg
Bill Nighy
Tom Hollander
Naomie Harris
Stellan Skarsgård
Chow Yun-Fat
Keith Richards
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) 2003 – present
Running time 461 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $665 million
Box office $2.7 billion

Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of three adventure films directed by Gore Verbinski, written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. They are based on a Walt Disney theme park ride of the same name, and follow the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Johnny Depp. The trilogy was first released on the big screen on July 9, 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. After the unexpected success of the first film, Walt Disney Pictures revealed that a trilogy was in the works. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was released three years later on July 7, 2006. The sequel proved to be very successful, breaking records worldwide the day of its premiere. In the end it acquired a total of $1,066,179,725 at the worldwide box office, becoming the third and fastest film to reach this staggering amount. The last film in the trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was released worldwide on May 25, 2007. Altogether, the film franchise has grossed over $2.79 billion worldwide.


During the early 1990s, screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio conceived of writing a film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. In their original pitch, Will Turner was the lead role, and the villainous pirates were searching for treasure. Steven Spielberg expressed interest, and wanted to cast Bill Murray, Robin Williams or Steve Martin as Jack Sparrow. Disney was already making Muppet Treasure Island at the time and did not give permission for the film to be made because the two had similar storylines.

Disney had Jay Wolpert write a script based on the ride, which producer Jerry Bruckheimer rejected, feeling it was, "a straight pirate movie." Stuart Beattie was brought in to rewrite the script in March 2002, due to his knowledge of piracy, and later that month Elliott and Rossio were brought in. Elliott and Rossio were inspired by the opening narration of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride, and decided to give the film a supernatural edge. As the budget rose, Michael Eisner and Bob Iger threatened to cancel the film, though Bruckheimer changed their minds when he showed them concept art and animatics.

In May 2002 Gore Verbinski signed on to direct Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush signed on the following month to star..Verbinski was attracted to the idea of using modern technology to resurrect a genre that had disappeared after the Golden Age of Hollywood, and recalled his childhood memories of the ride, feeling the film was an opportunity to pay tribute to the "scary and funny" tone of it. Depp was attracted to the story as he found it quirky: rather than trying to find treasure, the crew of the Black Pearl were trying to return it in order to lift their curse; also, the traditional mutiny had already taken place. Verbinski approached Rush for the role of Barbossa, as he knew he would not play it with attempts at complexity, but with a simple villainy that would suit the story's tone. Orlando Bloom read the script after Rush, whom he was working with on Ned Kelly, suggested it to him. Keira Knightley came as a surprise to Verbinski: he had not seen her performance in Bend It Like Beckham and was impressed by her audition. Tom Wilkinson was negotiated with to play Governor Swann, but the role went to Jonathan Pryce, whom Depp idolized.

Shooting for Curse of the Black Pearl began on October 9 2002 and wrapped by March 2003. Before its release, many had expected the film to be a flop, as the pirate genre had not been successful for years, that the film was based on a theme park ride, and that Johnny Depp rarely made a big film. However Curse of the Black Pearl became both a critical and commercial success.

Seeing the film's performance, the cast and crew signed on for two more sequels to be shot back-to-back, a practical decision on Disney's part to allow more time with the same cast and crew. Writer Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio decided not to make the sequels new adventures featuring the same characters, as with the Indiana Jones and James Bond series, but to retroactively turn The Curse of the Black Pearl into the first of a trilogy. They wanted to explore the reality of what would happen after Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann's embrace at the end of the first film, and initially considered the Fountain of Youth as the plot device. They settled on introducing Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman and the Kraken, a mythology only mentioned once in the first film. They also introduced the historical East India Trading Company, who for them represented a counterpoint to the themes of personal freedom represented by pirates.

Filming for the sequels began on February 28 2005, with Dead Man's Chest finishing on March 1, 2006,, and At World's End on January 10 2007.


Title Release date Total worldwide
box office
Total worldwide
box office (adjusted)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl July 9, 2003 $654,264,015 $733,355,856
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest July 7, 2006 $1,066,179,725 $1,100,297,476
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End May 25, 2007 $960,713,181 $960,713,181
Totals films 1-3 as of October 4th, 2007 $2,680,885,948 $2,794,366,513

Principal cast

Character Film
The Curse of the Black Pearl Dead Man's Chest At World's End
Jack Sparrow Johnny Depp
Will Turner Orlando Bloom
Elizabeth Swann Keira Knightley
Hector Barbossa Geoffrey Rush
James Norrington Jack Davenport
Weatherby Swann Jonathan Pryce
Joshamee Gibbs Kevin McNally
Ragetti Mackenzie Crook
Pintel Lee Arenberg
Davy Jones   Bill Nighy
Cutler Beckett   Tom Hollander
Tia Dalma   Naomie Harris
William "Bootstrap Bill" Turner   Stellan Skarsgård
Sao Feng   Chow Yun-Fat
Captain Teague   Keith Richards


Walt Disney Pictures has reportedly made tentative plans to shoot a fourth film in 2009. Johnny Depp has stated that he would love to play Jack Sparrow for another trilogy "if they had a good script." In February 2007, after filming was completed on Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, screenwriter Terry Rossio said he and Ted Elliott may try to write a screenplay, though "It's like the fourth Indiana Jones picture — there are forces in play to make it happen, and forces in play to make it not happen."

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has indicated interest in a spin-off, but was exhausted by the trilogy's production. Gore Verbinski feels that "the big danger is diminishing the brand... it would have to be a tale worthy of telling" for him to return. If the director returned, he noted that "I would start fresh and focus on the further adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow." Keira Knightley has stated that she does not wish to continue playing her character of Elizabeth Swann as she wants to do different projects, since she has been involved in the filming since she was 17 years old.

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