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Why Pirates Of The Caribbean Producer Jerry Bruckheimer Was Surprised The Disney Franchise Became A Success

Walt Disney Studios has a number of viable film franchises under its umbrella, but few can measure up to the success of Pirates of the Caribbean. The action/adventure IP has been incredibly lucrative over the years, thanks in part to the guidance of folks like producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Of course, the property’s big-screen winning performance was never a sure thing. In fact, Bruckheimer says he was surprised by how well it was received by audiences. The veteran producer provided his reasoning for that, and it makes sense. 

Jerry Bruckheimer has helped jumpstart more than a few blockbusters in his time. The 79-year-old producer has had a hand in the conceptions of various beloved films, from Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun to Con Air and Armageddon. The show business veteran recently partook in an interview with THR, during which he discussed various aspects of his career. Amid the chat, the revered filmmaker was asked if he’d ever been surprised by the success of any of his productions. He named two, Black Hawk Down and Pirates, explaining that the former was a risk because it was a dark story. As for the latter, he believed its theme park roots made it a major gamble: 

Pirates was based on a theme park ride. Disney had made Country Bears and Haunted Mansion. Both didn’t reach an audience. So here we come and we’re getting hammered by the press because ‘How dumb are they? They make two failures and they go for a third one!’ Yet it was enormous.

He definitely has a point there, considering that Disney hadn’t had much luck when it came to translating its most popular theme park attractions into feature films up to that point. One could argue that 2002’s The Country Bears has become an afterthought to the general public. And while the Eddie Murphy-led Haunted Mansion (which actually released after Pirates) made a bigger dent at the box office in 2003, it still wasn’t a smash hit. So all in all, Jerry Bruckheimer, his team and the studio as a whole were taking a leap of faith.

The famed producer actually wasn’t the only person associated with 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to be wary of its viability. Elizabeth Swann actress Keira Knightley thought it would flop because she believed pirate movies “always fail.” When you consider that those kinds of films have been (and still are) hit or miss, you can’t really disagree with the sentiment. Though in the end, that didn’t come to pass at all. 

Curse of the Black Pearl went on to gross over $600 million and, as a result, it spawned four theatrical sequels. As it stands, the franchise has amassed over $4.5 billion worldwide at the box office, and that number could grow if Jerry Bruckheimer gets his way. In the same interview, he stated that Margot Robbie’s reported film hasn’t been scrapped and mentioned that a movie featuring a younger cast is also in the works. Though Bruckheimer couldn’t say for sure whether Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow (who was nearly killed off) will appear should either project come to fruition. 

Despite that, the sky is still the limit for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jerry Bruckheimer deserves a lot of credit for helping to make it into the phenomenon it’s become. I personally wouldn’t be shocked if another installment does get made one day. As for whether such a project can achieve the same financial success that initially surprised Bruckheimer, we can only speculate.

All five Pirates of the Caribbean movies are currently available for Disney+ subscription-holders to stream. Those looking ahead to future fare that’ll hit cinemas can check out CinemaBlend’s schedule of 2023 new movie releases.

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