'Pirates Of The Caribbean 6': Will Johnny Depp Be Replaced?

Despite a very promising trailer, Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales was a real flop compared to the other films in the franchise. Released last summer, the film received a rating of 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed far less at the box office than the previous installments. With a budget of 230 million dollars, the fifth chapter in the adventures of Jack Sparrow made 795 million dollars, compared to 1.045 billion dollars for the previous film. 

This pirate seems pretty intrigued by everything that's going on. (© Disney)

Nonetheless, negotiations are underway to produce a sixth installment, according to Geeks Worldwide. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the original scriptwriters, as well as Jeff Nathanson, who helped to write the fifth film, are said to be working on a script. Meanwhile, rumor has it that Joachim Rønning, director of the fifth film, has been hired again.

Just like in the film, the great enigma remains Jack Sparrow. Will Johnny Depp continue to play the impertinent rogue? In the #MeToo era, and after director James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy for his offensive tweets, will Disney authorize the return of an actor involved in a growing list of scandals? 

A Role Which Fits Him Like A Glove

Since his career began, Johnny Depp has adopted the role of outsider, the eccentric artist on the outskirts of the Hollywood industry. He started out by playing unconventional, peripheral characters for little-known or unknown directors. In 1990, he appeared in Cry-baby and Edward Scissorhands, then collaborated with Tim Burton again on Sleepy Hollow (1999). He also played the handsome hunk in Don Juan DeMarco (1994) and Chocolat (2000).

But it was his role as Jack Sparrow which really catapulted him into the spotlight. The producer of the franchise, Jerry Bruckheimer, praised the actor's talent in an interview which appeared last year on Yahoo Movies:

"The secret of any franchise is to choose talented people, and Johnny is the key to the success of Pirates of the Caribbean. He plays a unique character, as endearing as he is irreverent." 

However, there's Sparrow, and then there's Depp. And for some time now, the actor's career has been rocked by scandal. 

As a long profile published in Rolling Stone in May explains, the last few years have been a real downward spiral. Besides his financial difficulties and addictions, Johnny Depp is now known for his erratic behavior – both in his private life and on set. In 2016, his ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic violence. Now, the actor is being sued by a member of a film crew who he is reported to have punched in the ribs.

His behavior has inevitably led to repercussions for his collaborators. Warner and J.K. Rowling were strongly criticized for hiring Depp to play Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 2.

So, if preparations are underway for a new movie, what will become of the franchise without its iconic protagonist?Will Johnny Depp be replaced? Will the story focus on another character? A Pirates of the Caribbean without Jack Sparrow seems unthinkable, or doomed to failure.

Even more so given that, fifteen years after the first movie was released in 2003, it's possible than even the most die-hard fans are starting to tire of pirates.