Captain Jack might be back.
The Walt Disney Company is reportedly offering the resurgent Johnny Depp a stunning $301 million to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the sixth and final “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.
An unnamed source claiming to have inside knowledge shared the supposed development with the Australian outlet Poptopic. Depp, 59, was booted from the hit franchise in 2018, after his ex-wife Amber Heard, also an actor, alleged in a column for The Washington Post she was a victim of domestic abuse.
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While the article didn’t explicitly name Depp, the allegations Heard made fell within the timeline of their romantic relationship, leading readers to conclude she was talking about the “Edward Scissorhands” star. After a lengthy and dramatic courtroom drama earlier this year, a jury in Fairfax, Virginia, concluded Heard defamed Depp in the piece; it was widely believed to have been the impetus for his dismissal from the beloved Disney franchise.
The insider claimed Disney is “very interested in patching up their relationship with Johnny Depp,” adding, “They reached out to the actor prior to his defamation trial against Amber Heard and asked whether he would be interested in returning for another ‘Pirates’ film or two.”
“I know corporate sent him a gift basket with a very heartfelt letter, but I’m unsure how it was received,” the source alleged. “But what I can tell you is that the studio has already penned up a draft for a film about Jack Sparrow, so they are very hopeful that Johnny will forgive them and return as his iconic character.”
For context, the “Pirates” franchise — comprising five films — has grossed $4.5 billion worldwide.
During a deposition prior to the trial and not played in court, Depp reportedly declared in verbose language he would not entertain any deal with Disney to reprise his role as Captain Jack.
One of Heard’s attorneys, Ben Rottenborn, asked Depp, “The fact is, Mr. Depp, if Disney came to you with $300 million and a million alpacas, nothing on this earth would get you to go back and work with Disney on a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film? Correct?” Depp confirmed the quote.
And on a separate occasion, during a deposition with Tina Newman, a production executive for Walt Disney Studios, another of Heard’s lawyers, Elaine Bredehoft, asked if the entertainment company would consider “paying Mr. Depp more than $300 million and providing him with more than a million alpacas to be able to obtain his services for any future ‘Pirates of the Caribbean role,'” to which Newman said, “No.”
With that in mind, it is interesting to see reports of a possible offering not just for a sixth “Pirates” film but also for a Depp-centered Disney Plus spin-off series “about the early life of the Captain of The Black Pearl,” according to the unnamed source.
Depp, for his part, celebrated his legal victory against Heard, whom he claimed destroyed his career.
“Six years later, the jury gave me my life back,” he said in a statement issued June 1. “I am truly humbled.”
He continued, “False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.”
Depp was clearly favored by social media users throughout the trial. However, it is worth noting that his popularity did dip in the immediate aftermath of the defamation trial, according to Morning Consult. Even still, a separate poll conducted by YouGov found the majority believe the jury was right to decide in Depp’s favor.
In today’s hyper-politicized culture, the Depp-Heard trial — regardless of reality — was perceived as a David and Goliath story, one of the everyday man duking it out against the elite machinations of a media empire out of touch with the real world.
All of this, of course, comes as The Walt Disney Company has faced a barrage of criticisms from conservatives and Christians ever since its CEO, Bob Chapek, went to bat against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, a law barring public school educators from teaching children about gender identity and sexual orientation from pre-K through third grade.
Not only has Disney vociferously opposed the parental rights bill, executives have pledged to increase the number of LGBT characters in its films and TV shows, including the just-released “Lightyear,” an animated spinoff of the “Toy Story” series. The Disney Pixar film, which has not performed well at the box office, features a same-sex kiss — a scene that drew much scrutiny from parents.
The fight between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) came to a head in late April, when lawmakers in the Sunshine State passed legislation to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special, self-governing status granted to Orlando’s Walt Disney World — a sprawling campus complete with resorts and four theme parks — in the spring of 1967.
You can read more about the RCID’s history and its future here.
While the problems conservatives and Christians have with Disney are not going away, it is possible a renewed partnership with Depp could curry favor with some fans currently disenchanted with Disney.
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