It's easy to forget what a roll of the dice Marvel took in casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in "Iron Man." At the time, the actor was still best known for his checkered and controversial past, and the studio was concerned about attaching Robert Downey Jr. to one of their centerpiece franchises as any bad behaviour would put not only the box office into jeopardy, but sequels, licensing opportunities and more. And while Johnny Depp certainly isn't a bad boy, it's that kind of thinking that still dominates the executives overseeing lucrative, four-quadrant franchises, and they will do anything to protect the wholesome, family image that has allowed them to print money.
Given that Captain Jack Sparrow is essentially an alcoholic, slurring his words and stumbling around the the four 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' movies to date -- and is openly influenced by Keith Richards to boot -- we're not sure why Disney is having a minor freakout over Depp's starring turn in "The Rum Diary" which opens this weekend (though given Michael Eisner initially hated Depp's portrayal of the character, maybe this isn't too shocking). The Bruce Robinson directed film screened over the weekend at the Austin Film Festival, but THR reports that no ABC affiliates were allowed to shoot or talk to Depp due to a draconian clause in his Disney contract involving the 'Pirates' movies. Because there is nothing kids love to watch more than entertainment news on their favorite local TV station.
“We came here expecting to talk to one of the biggest names in Hollywood,” said KHOU News reporter Shelton Green who openly noted the ban in his report from festival. “But apparently, Disney doesn’t want Johnny Depp’s new movie premiering here at the Paramount [Theatre] to get more exposure than his new 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie. So, they wouldn’t allow us to interview him nor would they even allow us to get video of him, but hundreds of other people did.”
Of course, now there is even more coverage for Depp's movie thanks to this bit of news, so a slow round of applause for Disney here. The trade reports that the studio is perhaps concerned about Depp's association with the Hunter S. Thompson adaptation that portrays his character of Paul Kemp as having had some booze fuelled adventures on the film's posters, particularly as "Pirates Of The Caribbean 5" is apparently gearing up to shoot next summer.
While early rumors suggested that 'Pirates 5' and 'Pirates 6' might shoot back-to-back keeping in line with the latest money-saving trend in Hollywood, there's no word yet on if that's still the plan. But there is a completed script for 'Pirates 5' by Terry Rossio and right now it's just a matter of locking up Depp, and finding a director (Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Shawn Levy, Chris Weitz and Alfonso Cuaron are among the early names that have been tossed around).
And if you want further confirmation that Disney wants more 'Pirates' soon, look no further than Kevin McNally the guy who has played Joshamee Gibbs in the films thus far. "I think the intention is to shoot another 'Pirates' film next summer. Whether that will happen or not, I don't know. I hope so. I quite need a holiday in Hawaii at the end of my theater run, so it would work out perfectly for me," the actor recently told Movieweb. "I think we have every intention of doing that next year. I think two years between each film is very good for the audience. When we did 2 and 3 within a year between them, I think that was probably a bit soon. So, if we did one next year, it would probably come out in 2013. That would be good."
So we'll see this goes, but stick up a middle finger to Disney and go see "The Rum Diary" this weekend. Here are a couple of clips from the film.