It looks as though Disney is planning to not only continue its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but potentially expand it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s brought on Bird of Prey writer Christina Hodson to pen a “female-fronted” Pirates film with Margot Robbie set to star.
The franchise has been in somewhat rough seas since 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales, which disappointed at the box office (it earned the second-lowest return for the series) and with reviewers. A sixth film has been in development since then, it has yet to materialize. High profile abuse allegations against series star Johnny Depp and reported troubles during the final film’s production has left his future with the franchise in some doubt, although there were reports that he would return in some form.
Last year, Disney reportedly began taking another stab at it, with Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin writing the screenplay for a reboot along with Ted Elliott, who wrote the franchise’s first four installments.
This new project is apparently separate from that project, according to THR: it’s described as being in early development, and isn’t necessarily a a spinoff of the main franchise, but a “wholly original story with new characters under the Pirates moniker.” What exactly that means for the franchise as a whole isn’t entirely clear: it could be a film set in the same universe (much like Disney’s done with its Marvel and Star Wars franchises) that operates on its own terms with minimal connection to the Depp series, or simply a film featuring female pirates that’s inspired by the ride, with no connection other than branding.
Should the project come to fruition, Hodson reuniting with Robbie is an exciting possibility: while Birds of Prey underwhelmed at the box office earlier this year (the ongoing pandemic might have some role to play there), it was praised for Robbie’s performance and the screenplay — something that the long-running Pirates franchise could certainly use.