By most accounts, the making of “Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” was a nightmare. THR‘s extensive profile on Johnny Depp and his current professional and personal woes is must-read stuff, and his behavior on the set of the blockbuster raised more than a few eyebrows. But even before cameras were rolling, the actor was making his thoughts known on the direction of the story — which makes sense given that Jack Sparrow is the character that keeps a roof over his head — even if his reason for changing the script was a bit suspect.
Screenwriter Terry Rossio, a longtime scribe on the ‘POTC’ franchise, has a lengthy and pretty interesting column named “Time Risk” on his Wordplay blog, about the myriad ways a script can get caught up in the development process, never to be made. One of the reasons he describes is “World Creation Subject To Whim Destruction,” and that’s where Depp comes in. The actor rejected an early draft of ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ for a very peculiar reason.
The original title of this column was planned to be World Creation Subject to Whim Destruction. Which I think is a pretty accurate summation of the job of screenwriting in general.
In my career, “Godzilla” has already been mentioned. But check out the marvelously detailed four-part series Godzilla Unmade, by Keith Aiken, exploring the development and production of that film.
More recent examples: my television series “Magical Law” lapsed when Gore Verbinski decided to direct “The Lone Ranger” instead. Our theatrical feature “Lightspeed” was put on the back burner when Disney acquired the “Star Wars” franchise. My version of ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ was set aside because it featured a female villain, and Johnny Depp was worried that would be redundant to “Dark Shadows,” which also featured a female villain.
Of course there is also the possibility that all those screenplays simply sucked. But usually when I go back to read a screenplay that wasn’t produced, it holds up, often better than the film that was eventually produced. Sometimes it just takes a single decision by a single person, often just a whim, to destroy years of story creation and world-building.
Again, it’s certainly a curious decision by Depp, given that “Dark Shadows” is not part of the ‘POTC’ franchise, and just because that film had a female villain, shouldn’t have any bearing on his ‘Pirates’ movie. But hey, maybe he knows his brand better than I do.
“Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” opens on May 26th. [via Moviepilot]