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In the Works: Why Bruckheimer Wanted 'Kon-Tiki' Directing Duo for 'Pirates of the Caribbean 5'

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 30, 2013 at 1:47PM

The directing team of Norway's Oscar-nominated high-seas adventure film "Kon-Tiki," Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, have landed the helming gig on Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean 5." The Jerry Bruckheimer production is set for a late 2013 or January 2014 start.
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Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning
Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning

The directing team of Norway's Oscar-nominated high-seas adventure film "Kon-Tiki," Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, have landed the helming gig on Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean 5." The Jerry Bruckheimer production is set for a late 2013 or January 2014 start.

The Norwegian duo beat out Rupert Sanders ("Snow White and the Huntsman") and Fredrik Bond ("The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman"). But Bruckheimer is the real auteur of this series. He has always had an eye for talent, and he's got the "Pirates" ship running pretty smoothly--but costs skyrocketed under Gore Verbinski and Rob Marshall: "On Stranger Tides" (2011) cost $250 million plus global marketing, so a slight course correction may be in order. "On Stranger Tides" grossed a solid $1 billion worldwide--and only $241 million of that was domestic.

Needless to say, this is a huge, career-changing job for Ronning and Sandberg. These guys know their way with cameras and water, and if "Kon-Tiki," which chronicled explorer Thor Heyerdahl's extraordinary ocean passage on a wooden raft, lacked a bit of narrative tension, you can bet Bruckheimer's editors will take care of that. Besides, the "Pirates" series gave up on cohesive storytelling a long time ago: they're about strings of over-the-top VFX action sequences. ILM and other VFX houses are probably more responsible for the cinematic artistry in these movies than any given director is at this point.

This article is related to: News, In The Works, Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg, Disney


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.