Jerry Bruckheimer should be spending most of his time talking about the long-delayed release of Top Gun: Maverick, but instead there is more attention centered around another big franchise on his resume, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. In a new interview, the producer revealed that it is extremely unlikely that Johnny Depp would appear in a potential Pirates 6 and revealed the Margot Robbie project rumored in 2020 is still in the works. During Depp's defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, the actor's talent manager claimed Depp lost a $22.5 million deal to star in Pirates 6 after Heard's 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being the survivor of domestic violence was published.
When The Sunday Times asked Bruckheimer, 78, about Depp's chances of playing Captain Jack Sparrow again, Bruckheimer said it was unlikely. "Not at this point," he said, via The Wrap. "The future is yet to be decided." He went on to say the next movies would center around Robbie's new character. "We're developing two Pirates scripts. One with her, one without," he told the Sunday Times.
In June 2020, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Robbie was attached to a new Pirates project. Little is known about this, aside from writer Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) working on the script. Ted Elliott, who worked on the past Pirates movies, is also working on a script with Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) that is separate from the Robbie/Hodson movie.
Bruckheimer's career dates back to the 1970s, so he has experienced just about every major change in modern Hollywood history. When Depp made his debut as Jack Sparrow in 2003, big international stars were needed to launch franchises. Now, it seems intellectual properties are bigger than the stars. However, Bruckheimer believes that not everything has changed.
"Marvel and DC still want a really strong actor," Bruckheimer told the Times. "I still get the same list of ten men the studios want in a movie. You still get Tom [Cruise], Leonardo [DiCaprio]. Get one of these big names and you've got a good shot at getting a movie made." He believes Brad Pitt and Chris Hemsworth are bankable stars as well, but he noted the list of women who can lead a franchise is "just not that strong a list yet."
Depp and Heard are still in the middle of a defamation trial in Virginia. Depp filed a $50 million defamation suit against Heard over the Washington Post op-ed, which did not name Depp as her abuser. In 2020, Heard filed a $100 million counter-suit. The trial finally began on April 11. During testimony earlier this month, Depp's manager Jack Whigham claimed Depp was offered $22.5 million to star in Pirates 6 before Heard's op-ed was published. Depp's legal team has argued that Heard's op-ed cost him work opportunities.
However, there were reports about Disney wanting to move on from Jack Sparrow before Heard's op-ed was published in December 2018. In October 2018, screenwriter Stuart Beattie told the Daily Mail that Disney planned to reboot Pirates without Depp after 2017's Dead Men Tell No Tales was a disappointment at the domestic box office. Deadline also reported in October 2018 that Disney was in talks with Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to write a Pirates reboot. Heard filed for divorce from Depp in May 2016 and requested a temporary restraining order against Depp, with allegations of abuse. Depp denied abusing Heard and has accused her of abuse against him.