'Pirates of the Caribbean 5' Delayed Beyond Summer 2015

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Disney Enterprises, Inc.

The Japanese box office has yet to fully recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. Revenue sunk more than 20 percent for the year, although the latest "Harry Potter" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" installments each grossed more than $100 million.

UPDATED: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer reveals script issues behind the move, which follows the summer flop "The Lone Ranger": “We’re supposed to start [shooting] in March and you start spending a lot of money now.”

The next installment in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise will be delayed beyond its planned summer 2015 release date, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

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Producer Jerry Bruckheimer says the decision to push Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is set to return Johnny Depp to the Capt. Jack Sparrow role, was made because of script issues. He is hopeful that the film can be ready for summer 2016.

“We have an outline everyone loves but the script is not done,” Bruckheimer revealed in an exclusive interview with THR.

The move comes in the aftermath of The Lone Ranger's failure at the box office this summer. Disney has said that the $250 million-plus production from the team behind the Pirates movies could lead to a $190 million write down for the studio.

Asked whether the potential price tag of the next Pirates film played a role in the delay, Bruckheimer replies, “It’s all a factor. We want a script that everyone’s signed off on and a budget that everyone’s signed off on.” (Such projects have cost as much as $300 million in the past.) Coming up with a great script is “always hard,” Bruckheimer says, and after this summer, “everybody’s more cautious.” The summer saw several costly movies underperform. 

Disney now hopes to keep the cost of the fifth Pirates movie under $200 million — a goal the studio is unlikely to meet. But bringing in Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who made their film on the water for a price, should help keep costs down. Nonetheless, industry observers have anticipated a tough negotiation between Disney and Bruckheimer, given the size of the Lone Ranger write down.

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Bruckheimer says it was necessary to push the project because “we’re supposed to start in March and you start spending a lot of money now.” According to the producer, the Pirates filmmakers weren’t happy with screenwriter Jeff Nathanson’s initial script, and he’s now at work on a second attempt based on the well-received outline. But Bruckheimer asks, “How do you budget an outline?”

A source says the studio thought the original Nathanson script "was too expensive but it was also really complicated and hard to follow."

Asked whether he’s still confident that the project will come together, Bruckheimer says, “With any movie, you’re never confident. But it’s a billion-dollar franchise.” The last Pirates movie, 2011’s On Stranger Tides, grossed $1.04 billion

Disney is flush with product so the studio is not pressuring for a start. And the summer of 2015 already is packed with major films, including Warner Bros.' tentatively-titled Batman vs. Superman, set to open one week after Pirates' original July 17 date. Disney's schedule for 2015 still includes Star Wars: Episode VII, another Avengers movie and a Pixar film, Inside Out.

Email: Kim.Masters@thr.com
Twitter: @KimMasters