Disney franchise Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the studio’s most successful series to date. Its fourth film, On Stranger Tides, earned over $1 billion at the box office alone, bringing its overall net worth to more than $4.5 billion. Before Johnny Depp graced screens as the delightful Captain Jack Sparrow, however, director and executive producer Gore Verbinski was told “nobody” would see a film about pirates in 2003.
Verbinski recently spoke at length about the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the reactions he received when he told people what he was making.
One of the most iconic parts of the franchise was Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer’s score, which was used throughout each of the five films.
Zimmer wasn’t too excited for the film when he was first told about it, however.
The director revealed: “I remember pitching [the film] to Zimmer and he said: ‘You’re mad! You’re making a pirate movie? Nobody’s going to see a pirate movie.’”
Although Verbinski was being told his idea wasn’t going to work, he became more passionate than ever before.
He continued: “It was resoundingly: ‘That’s the worst idea ever.’ And there was something exciting about that.
“It was so doomed to fail. You’re setting out to go make a genre that literally doesn’t work, or there’s so much historical proof that it will not work.”
Considering the director based the idea of Pirates of the Caribbean off the Disney World theme park ride, it is easy to see why people would have been skeptical about his vision.
Depp spoke about meeting this executive, who asked: “‘What the fuck are you doing?’ When they asked if it was gay, I said: ‘Didn’t you know all my characters are gay?’”
To make matters worse for Verbinski, he also had people doubting the story in the movie.
He continued: “Everybody’s nervous about the story. It’s convoluted – they’re returning the treasure, wait they’ve taken the treasure back, they’re cursed? Everything about that had a spirit of madness to it.”
Although he eventually got the film green-lit and filmed, his woes didn’t stop there.
Verbinski later explained how the stress from shooting films two and three (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End) left his health in disarray.
On top of that, disastrous weather destroyed half of the sets while filming, forcing him to go back to Los Angeles.
He said: “I was 30 pounds overweight. Literally, there’s no sleep. Zero … We got hit by a hurricane, half the set got wiped out.
“Our tank didn’t work. We had to pull stuff back to LA. It was pure survival mode by the time we got to the third one.”
The Pirates of the Caribbean films are available on Disney Plus now.