Franchise installments: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
It seemed like the pirate genre was all but dead until Johnny Depp shocked the world by going all Keith Richards on us for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was fresh, funny, action-packed, and didn’t rely on sex or gore like so many other blockbusters. When Dead Man’s Chest hit theaters in 2006, it was somewhat underwhelming, but still entertaining enough to leave people smiling. Then, over the course of two more lengthy sequels, this franchise went from a bonafide moneymaker to a mere shell of itself (and helped Johnny Depp lose his way).
It was always a fine line that this franchise had to balance between charming and corny because of its over-the-top lead and makeshift mythology, so when the series stretched beyond its natural length, the wheels began to fall off. The problem is that Disney was looking for it to become its version of Lord of the Rings, but this franchise lacked the depth and history of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic. Plus, neither Gore Verbinski nor Rob Marshall are Peter Jackson-level directors. What should have been a stellar one-off film was artificially built up into a four-film series that buckled under choppy waters.