The paradigm is now set and unless audiences wholeheartedly reject this model (which you haven't done yet) franchises are here to stay in any form, be it reboot, re-do, do-over, parallel universe, sequel, prequel, etc., so stop bemoaning a "Justice League" movie with different Supermans and Batmans and just accept your fate. Or rather, reject the studio offering and force them to rethink the template when the business falls out of the black.
Just look at what Warner Bros. is doing, planning on rebooting the "Batman" franchise before the third and final Christopher Nolan film has shot a frame. Sony knows exactly what buttered their bread and before "Spider-Man 4" fell apart, the reboot script was already being worked on, and the demise of the Sam Raimi film only turned out to be a minor blip on the studio's schedule. "Twilight" will be rebooted eventually, so will "Harry Potter," so will the "Indiana Jones" series, etc. These brands are simply too lucrative to ignore and as the "Star Wars" series proved, you can tarnish the legacy, but the brand can still endure and continue to rake in billions of dollars each year.
So, onto the matter at hand. Test audience data has apparently shown that viewers have enjoyed "Pirates Of The Caribbean 4" because it was not a sequel or prequel, but a one-off; a stand alone, self-contained story that essentially is just "The Further Adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow."
At the recent CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that any further 'Pirates films -- and a fifth installment of the franchise is already being written -- will be stand-alone films, which is probably better for the fans of the series who were supremely confused with the sequelized and muddled plots of 'Pirates 2 & 3.'
"The audience told us what they loved about it is that it was fresh, it was new, it was a whole new story," Bruckheimer told USA Today. "So that will carry over into the next one too, to give it something fresh and different. As long as the audience embraces this one, we'll certainly try to make another one. It's really up to Johnny. He loves the character."
So add "stand-alone" to the sequel lexicon since producers and suits seem to be loath to use the term reboot these days. Also, that will allow Bruckheimer and co. to wipe the slate clean and bring in a hot new love interest for Depp each time and sequel salaries won't escalate for anyone outside of Depp and the 2 or 3 British actors still on board the series that are just happy to be there.
Will 'Pirates 5' happen? Is the sky blue? No one seems to be tiring of these movies and we're sure his islands off the coast of France love them too. Hey, we know it's nice to slow down and have kids, but is Depp going to pull a Robert De Niro? That would be a shame (let's look at Bill Murray or Robert Duvall as a classier model of not-so-young actors who don't move to the rhythms of franchises). But the writing has been on the wall for the fifth installment for a while now; we're sure it's just a matter of Disney deciding how many dump trucks full of money and ancient treasure they will have to park at Depp's door the next time around.
As for shooting the film in 3D? "The technology scared us a little, only because, you saw 'Avatar,' that was all done on sound stages. Nobody had ever taken these cameras out into the jungles and did a big adventure picture," Bruckheimer said. "[But director] Rob Marshall did an enormous amount of research with the cinematographer, and we finally went to Disney and said, 'Look, we really think we can do this.' And they thought about it for a while, because it increases the costs, but in the end, they agreed with us and said, 'Let's go for it.'" So to translate: Disney realized they could charge more money for tickets and whatever budget increase shooting in 3D brought on would still come back to them tenfold in box office and Jack Sparrow toys.
"Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" hits theaters May 25. 'Pirates 5' is in active development. Shiver me timbers.