Disney’s high seas adventure series returns to theater this Memorial Day weekend as “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” marks the fifth adventure for Captain Jack Sparrow and crew. As he release draws near I looked at some fun facts about the film to get you guys geared up for the adventure ahead.
For this list I compiled some of the most interesting and exciting facts about the film, whether that involved the making and production of the film or stories from behind the scenes, and compiled them into this list. These ten facts were ones I deemed to be the most interesting and fun facts for fans to know as they hit the theaters Memorial Day weekend.
10. An expensive tradition
“Dead Men Tell No Tales” has quite a price tag at a reported $350 million, however it’s only the second most expensive film of all time (after inflation). The most expensive? Well that would be this film’s predecessor “On Stranger Tides” which had a reported budget of over $370 million making these two films the most expensive ever made. It’s also the most expensive film ever filmed in Australia, which offered $20 million in tax incentives for the production. Johnny Depp alone received a reported $65 million to appear as Captain Jack Sparrow once again in the film. This is all despite Disney hiring more budget-minded filmmakers to head up the project after the colossal financial failure of another Depp-led film, “The Lone Ranger”, which lost the studio $190 million.
9. No longer Caribbean filmed
As the name implies, the “Pirates” franchise is set in the Caribbean, but “Dead Men Tell No Tales” will be the first to be filmed outside of the Caribbean islands. As stated above, production took place in Australia, specifically Queensland. It’s the largest production ever in Australia and will mark a bit of a transition for the visual settings of the film. Filming in Australia proved to be a bit problematic, specifically for the animal actors of the film. The capuchin monkeys used in the movie for Captain Barbossa’s famed monkey sidekick Jack are considered “pests” in Australia and have to remain in quarantine for a certain amount of time. Even then one of the monkeys actually wondered onto a different film set, causing quite a stir.
8. The final tale?
This is actually the second “Pirates” film to be marketed with “the final film” statement in the franchise, the first being “At World’s End” which concluded the original trilogy. This film has been stated to be a “soft reboot” of the franchise and, according to the filmmakers, the “final adventure” moniker is a bit misunderstood by some as the plan is for this film to be the beginning of the end for the franchise and not the actual final film, this the why the word “begins” is also in the trailer as well. There are some that believe that due to Depp’s questionable bankability, the high price of the film, and the possibility of franchise fatigue, that Disney made the decision to advertise “Dead Men Tell No Tales” with the “final film” statement in case the movie fails to meet expectations at the box office, wording it in a way that could mean either the final adventure begins or the film itself is the final adventure for ambiguity’s sake. That was never confirmed, but what we can confirm is that this film does mark the beginning of the end for Disney’s iconic franchise.
7. A Beatle cameo
In “At World’s End” and “On Stranger Tides” fans were ecstatic to see Rolling Stone Keith Richards play Captain Jack Sparrow’s father, especially seeing as Johnny Depp noted that Richards was part of the inspiration for his iconic portrayal of Sparrow. We will see yet another musical icon appear in “Dead Men Tell No Tails” as Sparrow’s uncle will appear, played by famed Beatle Paul McCartney. Few details have been released as to exactly what part Sparrow’s uncle will play in the plot, however McCartney is listed on the cast in a cameo role so we can probably expect it to be a brief appearance at best.
6. Numerous favorites return
After “On Stranger Tides” featured limited appearances by Jack Sparrow’s crew from the Black Pearl, numerous fan favorites will be returning to the fold in this film. Martin Klebba will return as Marty, Stephen Graham will return as Scrum, and Kevin McNally will once again play Joshamee Gibbs. Bigger names will also be returning to the crew as Orlando Bloom will make his first appearance in ten years in the franchise, having skipped “On Stranger Tides”, as Will Turner, the successor to Davy Jones. Thanks to a frankly spoiler-filled international trailer it was also confirmed that Keira Knightley will also return as Elizabeth Swann, Turner’s wife and mother of one of this film’s new characters Henry Turner, after also being absent from the previous film. There is also the rumor that a British soldier will be featured as a spirit of some sort leading many to believe that Norrington, who died in “At World’s End”, will be featured in the film as well. Geoffrey Rush will also return as Captain Hector Barbossa.
5. Hanz Zimmer absent, Zanelli takes over
For the first time in the series Hanz Zimmer is not composing the music for “Dead Men Tell No Tales”. Zimmer’s protégé Geoff Zanelli is taking over the role. Zanelli said he will be bringing some new elements to the film to underscore the new setting and the growth of the “Pirates” universe while also respecting what Zanelli said was a strong legacy Zimmer left that “redefined the sound of an entire genre”. Zanelli is not new to the franchise as he has worked on all four previous films, but this will be his first turn as the lead composer for one of the “Pirates” films. Zanelli was also the principal composer for “The Lone Ranger” in 2013 and composed the “Spain theme” for “On Stranger Tides”. He also had a hand in composing “Rango” and “Secret Window”, both also Johnny Depp-lead films.
4. A direct ride connection
While “Dead Man Tell No Tales” is actually the title of the film in North America, with the title “Salazar’s Revenge” being utilized in many foreign markets. It’s North American title is actually a direct quote from the popular Disney ride that the franchise is based on, and it’s the first time in the series that a direct quote from the ride is actually used to name a “Pirates” film. The quote “dead men tell no tails” is spoken to those on the “Pirates” ride as the ride enters the Pirates cove section of their adventure and was also stated twice in previous “Pirates” films, once by Cotton’s parrot in “Curse of the Black Pearl” and again in “At World’s End” via actual audio from the ride itself. Prior to this film the other films had completely original titles, although “On Stranger Tides” was also the title of a pirate-themed novel.
3. A change of the villain role
Captain Armando Salazar will be the main villain of this “Pirates” film, but it wasn’t always that way. Christoph Waltz was originally cast as the film’s villain, named Captain John Brand, however things changed when Waltz had to drop from the film. Javier Bardem joined the cast and the name of the antagonist was changed to Salazar to sound more fitting of the film’s Mediterranean setting and pay respect to Bardem’s own cultural heritage. The villain was also changed to a Spanish captain. A female villain was also considered, however Johnny Depp spoke against the move as he played a part in the writing of the movie. Like the first film’s antagonist Captain Barbossa, Salazar will be commanding an army of the undead, further driving home the comparisons many have made between this film and “Curse of the Black Pearl” as a return to the franchise’s roots.
2. Depp joined the Pirates ride
In preparation for the film’s release, Johnny Depp dawned his “Pirates” character Jack Sparrow’s costume and joined the actual “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland Resort, greeting fans alongside the robotic characters the film franchise was inspired by. Depp greeted riders in late April, spurring many videos to arrive on social media documenting the guest appearance, with Depp reciting many popular lines from the series. The appearance also marked the 50th anniversary of the ride that is one of the Disney’s most iconic. It’s not the first time Depp has dawned his film alter-ego. Depp is known for dressing as Jack Sparrow to meet with sick children and fulfill make a wish requests for young fans worldwide. This is the first time however he, or any actor from the films, has appeared live as part of the attraction that spawned one of film’s most successful modern franchises. You can view Disney’s official documentation of Depp’s visit here.
1. Movie held hostage
As the release of the film approaches, media has been all abuzz as reports surfaced that the “Pirates” movie has, ironically, been stolen by real-life pirates as a copy of the film was taken hostage by hackers who demanded Bitcoin from Disney. They threatened to release parts of the film every so often up to the release of the movie unless Disney met their demands, however Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has been working with the FBI and will not pay the random. This is relatively smart since the copy is apparently out there and the company cannot guarantee that the copy will not be released or copied for release if the ransom is paid. With the reported $350 million budget, including advertising and production, the film could be hurt tremendously if the copy were released to the public in full before hitting theaters. As of this list it was not confirmed that the film was released by the hackers, but only time will tell if this incident hurts one of the most expensive films ever produced for a theater audience.