If you’ve watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, then you will know the fifth entry in Disney’s Johnny Depp fronted swashbuckling franchise mostly sticks to its well established formula boasting very little in the way of surprises. For a while though, that wasn’t the case – Disney were actually keeping their cards very close to their chest. Especially when it came to the unexpected addition of one character in particular: Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann.
What makes Knightley’s reprisal of the role even more surprising is that she wasn’t even supposed to be in this movie at all. Check out all her interviews last year where she’s asked about it, and you will see/read/hear Knightley denying her involvement in Dead Men Tell No Tales. And at the time she genuinely wasn’t lying.
The last time we saw Elizabeth Swann was in the post-credits scene in 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, as she got to spend one day with her cursed beloved Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). This would be the one day every 10 years that Will is allowed to leave the cursed ship the Flying Dutchman and walk on land. Despite appearing in all three Pirates movies up to that point, Knightley’s Swann would sit out the fourth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The original plan was that she would not be part of this latest film as well, and in fact that was the way it was filmed.
However, early test screening audiences all seemed to walk out of the cinema asking one thing: Where was Elizabeth Swann? Since a large part of the film’s story revolved around her and Will’s son, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), trying to break his father’s curse, having Elizabeth back only made sense. What’s more, “audiences demanded it” as producer Jerry Bruckheimer explained to USA Today.
So Knightley was convinced to join the production at the last-minute and film the key scene shown at the conclusion of Dead Men Tell No Tales as Will Turner, having had his curse lifted by Henry, is finally able to reunite with the love of his life for good. This was supposed to be the film’s great big reveal, except news of Knightley’s involvement leaked out. So what did Disney do? Try to plug the leaks and sweep it all under the rug? No, they showed Elizabeth Swann off front and centre in one of the later trailers. Because of course they did.
There is, however, a further actual surprise waiting in the film in the form of a post-credits scene. In the scene, Will and Elizabeth are sleeping in bed when Will has a nightmare as he sees a shadowy figure and clawed hand that looks to be that of Davy Jones, the octopus-faced villain that plagued the couple in At World’s End and who Will had killed by stabbing him in the heart. Will awakes with a start to realise that it was all just a dream, but as they tuck in again the camera shifts to show up some dropped barnacles under the bed. Davy Jones had really been there! Shock! Horror!
Dead Men Tell No Tales has been billed as the final movie in this franchise, with it neatly wrapping up all loose ends from the previous films. But the introduction of Davy Jones can only mean that Disney is fishing for a sequel, and they apparently want Elizabeth and Will to be back at the centre of it again. Director Joachim Rønning confirmed to USA Today that it was indeed Davy Jones we saw, while his co-director Espen Sandberg explained it’s just “a little tease. We just wanted to throw in a hint that this might not be the end, but the beginning of the end.”[/quotes]
Bruckheimer confirmed the idea of doing at least another seque, but it sounds more like they’re just leaving the door open rather than committing to a proper plan.
“We hope, we’ll see. If we get a good turnout, maybe we can convince them to do another one. It’s Johnny and Disney. We start there. There’s no movie without him and there’s no movie without (Disney) writing a check.”
Unfortunately for Bruckheimer and co, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has experienced some rough seas at the box office. Despite a solid showing internationally, it got off to a sluggish start at the US domestic box office. It may have been the no.1 film in America this weekend past, but it was the second-lowest debut of a Pirates movie since the 2003 original film, and it led what was one of the lowest grossing Memorial Day Weekends in years. A lot more money will need to be made before Disney will consider another sequel, and with Wonder Woman looking to open massively this upcoming weekend, Pirates’ chances are not looking to rosy. Savvy?
Last Updated: May 30, 2017