Here's why ex-Disney exec 'absolutely' believes Johnny Depp WILL return to 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
A former Walt Disney Studios executive believes Johnny Depp might return to the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise following his victory in his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard.
On Wednesday, June 1, Depp, 58, won his defamation case against Heard, 36, bringing an end to a bitter six-week judicial battle in Virginia that exposed their private lives. Heard also won one of her three defamation cases, and her lawyer indicated she intends to appeal. Depp later declared in a statement that the jury "gave me my life back" and that the "best is yet to come" for him. Although Hollywood insiders wish to remain mum on whether Depp's career will recover following the trial, one former Disney executive believes Depp will be asked to return to the Pirates franchise shortly.
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"I absolutely believe post-verdict that Pirates is primed for rebooting with Johnny as Capt Jack back on board," the former executive told People. "There is just too much potential box-office treasure for a beloved character deeply embedded in the Disney culture. With [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer riding high on the massive success of Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, there is huge appetite for bringing back bankable Hollywood stars in massively popular franchises."
Depp was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Jack Sparrow in the 2003 picture 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl'. The successful sequels were released in 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2017. Another Hollywood insider who has worked on previous Pirates films told People that Depp's return as a lead is "not very likely," but that "Pirates 6 would undoubtedly be made with Margot Robbie or someone similar."
Robbie, 31, was previously rumored to be in talks for a Pirates reboot. According to The Sunday Times, franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer is "developing two Pirates scripts – one with her, one without." "I would think they make Robbie his daughter and likely have a cameo with him as a test," the insider added, who predicts the sequel won't be released until 2025 owing to production timelines.
Depp testified in the defamation case about his feud with Disney officials, saying he felt he'd become "guilty until proven innocent," and that he wouldn't work with the studio again even if they paid him a $300 million salary. "I don't believe that based on his money troubles, especially given Pirates is a billion-dollar global franchise," the insider said of the remark.
Despite the fact that "reputations have been torn down on both sides" in the legal dispute, one Hollywood representative told People that Depp's career might still "flourish" since "this is the world we live in." They added, "His fans are very loyal and vocal and all know he is far from perfect."
In his testimony, Depp stated that he wanted to give his Pirates character a "proper goodbye" and that he meant to continue creating Pirates films "until it was time to stop." Depp's agent claimed that Heard's 2018 op-ed, which was at the core of the defamation trial, cost him a potential $22.5 million payout for a sixth Pirates film. However, Depp's former long-term agent testified, claiming that the actor's "unprofessional behavior" in the years leading up to the op-ed caused studios to be "reluctant" to hire him.
Depp lost his widely publicized UK libel trial against British newspaper The Sun for branding him a "wife-beater" in November 2020. The outlet's accusations were found to be "substantially true" by the court, and Heard testified to back up the claims. Depp's effort to reverse the decision was rejected in March 2021. After losing the libel case, Depp announced his departure from the 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise, which is produced by Warner Bros. He was eventually replaced by Mads Mikkelsen as Grindelwald in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore', which had the lowest box office result in the Harry Potter franchise when it was released in April.