Advertising Margot Robbie as the star of the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean reboot could lead the series to rely on one actor too much… again.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise’s future is uncertain, but it does not bode well the proposed Margot Robbie reboot is already repeating a major mistake made by the original series. When the first Pirates of the Caribbean proved a huge hit, many commentators were surprised to see the Disney blockbuster’s success with audiences worldwide. While hopes were high for the horror/comedy/adventure hybrid, few expected The Curse of the Black Pearl to earn both critical acclaim and hundreds of millions at the box office, leaving the filmmakers to work out what went so right after the fact.
One element that viewers knew they loved was Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. The Pirates of the Caribbean antihero was not the primary protagonist of the original but of the trio of leading characters, it was clear he had become the breakout favorite. As a result, the franchise began pivoting its focus to Depp’s character more and more, devoting long stretches of the third movie, At World’s End, to Sparrow hanging around with alternate versions of himself and eventually replacing his original supporting stars altogether by the fourth entry, On Stranger Tides.
However, this strategy did not pay off for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in the long run. Although 2007 entry At World’s End got away with focusing on Sparrow over his co-stars, the fourth and fifth movies received far worse reviews from critics who were sick of Depp’s hammy character dominating proceedings. This was reflected in the decreased box office of Dead Men Tell No Tales, proving that even viewers were tiring of the franchise’s myopic focus. However, rumors that Margot Robbie is set to star in a Pirates of the Caribbean reboot prove that, before the movie even goes into production, the series may already be repeating this mistake by placing one major star at the center, as opposed to bringing together an ensemble as the original movie opted to.
By teasing a major star as the lead and no other cast members, Margot Robbie’s Pirates of the Caribbean reboot risks taking a profitable star and letting the entire appeal of the series rest on their shoulders. Depp was not advertised as the main draw of The Curse of the Black Pearl, but was retroactively recognized as the movie’s high point and became beloved in the role as a result. Without announcing an equivalent of Orlando Bloom’s Will, Kiera Knightley’s Elizabeth or Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, the reboot runs the risk of relying too much on one central figure from the start, something that only became the definitive problem for the original franchise between At World’s End and On Stranger Tides.
For her part, Robbie has been reticent to confirm her involvement, saying in a podcast interview that “it’s early days yet.” However, as rumors continue to circulate about Robbie’s Pirates of the Caribbean reboot, the studio needs to start sharing more details about the potential cast or the creators will risk repeating the mistake they made with Depp’s character in the later entries. Audiences care about more than the lead character of any proposed Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and focusing on their star power will only detract from the larger appeal of the adventure franchise.
More: Does Hollywood Really Need Another Pirates of the Caribbean?
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