'Pirates of the Caribbean' director recalls movie was 'doomed to fail'

'Pirates of the Caribbean' was 'doomed to fail,' according to director Gore Verbinski

In hindsight, it is crazy to call the Pirates of the Caribbean anything other than an overwhelming success and standalone in the pop culture zeitgeist, but according to its director, it was expected to fail. 

"I remember pitching it to [Hans] Zimmer and he said, 'You're mad! You're making a pirate movie? Nobody's going to see a pirate movie.' It was resoundingly, 'that's the worst idea ever,'" Gore Verbinski told Collider in a recent interview. "And there was something exciting about that. It was so doomed to fail. You’re setting out to go make a genre that literally doesn't work, or there's so much historical proof that it will not work."

To be fair, the premise was based upon the Disneyland attraction by the same name. It could have easily failed—hard. Like, Green Lantern-style. And Walt Disney Picture was keenly aware of that possibility ahead of 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Verbinski continued: "So, you're making everybody nervous. The studio’s nervous. Everybody's nervous about Johnny Depp's performance. Everybody's nervous about the story. It's convoluted—they’re returning the treasure, wait they've taken the treasure back, they're cursed? Everything about that had a spirit of madness to it. Then, after it was successful, Pirates 2 and 3 start to fall into the ‘release date-driven experience."  


The Curse of the Black Pearl introduced Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, a blacksmith who needs help rescuing his kidnapped lover, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly).

The transcendent film became a phenomenon and was nominated for five Oscars, including one nod for Depp. The second and third installments continued to earn critical acclaim and fan adoration. Dead Man's Chest (2006) scored an Oscar for best achievement in visual effects, then At World's End (2007) earned two more nominations.

That marked the end of the trilogy and Verbinski's directorial involvement. However, two more films were made: On Stranger Tides (2011) and Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). Both kept Depp as Sparrow and retained original writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, but Verbinski was replaced by Rob Marshall. 

It is a widely shared opinion that Marshall and Co. should have left well enough alone. 

Reminisce on Pirates' glory days by reading Verbinski's full interview here.

Megan Armstrong (@megankarmstrong) is a writer with previous work appearing in places such as Billboard, Bleacher Report, GQ and others. She's most interested in writing about people and how they live their lives, through the framework of music, entertainment and sports.

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