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Pirates of the Caribbean 6 release date, cast, plot and trailer - What we know so far

Could anyone have guessed that Pirates of the Caribbean, which started as an adaptation of a Disneyland and Disney World theme park ride of the same name, could give us one of the most memorable Disney characters of all time in Captain Jack Sparrow and become a game-changing action franchise and sprawling epic full of complex lore? 

The Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise has been around for nearly two decades — beginning with the 2003 release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, starring Johnny Depp as the suave swashbuckler Jack Sparrow and Orlando Bloom as the blacksmith Will Turner on a mission to rescue Will's childhood love Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from Captain Barbossa's (Geoffrey Rush) cursed ship the Black Pearl ... which is Sparrow's prized possession. After that inaugural entry raked in more than $650 million worldwide, Walt Disney Pictures and executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer (who produced the film under his Jerry Bruckheimer Films banner) set the franchise ship out to sea. To date, there have been four sequels to the original Pirates of the CaribbeanDead Man's Chest in 2006, At World's End in 2007, On Stranger Tides in 2011, and Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017.

Now, there's a mysterious sixth film on the horizon. In October 2018, it was reported that Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick would be scripting a Pirates reboot; a year later, Deadline reported that Disney hired Craig Mazin (of Chernobyl fame) and Ted Elliott (a writer on Pirates 1 through 4) to write the movie instead. Then in May 2020, Bruckheimer told Collider that the Pirates team was "working on a draft right now," and that they'd hand it in to Disney executives as soon as possible. 

While there's very little concrete information about the new film, rumors and reports have been flying in every direction. Here's everything we know so far about Pirates of the Caribbean 6: who might be in it, when it could be released, and what it could be about.

What's the release date of Pirates of the Caribbean 6?

Since the script for Pirates of the Caribbean 6 hasn't yet been completed and handed into Disney as of June 2020, there's obviously no release date to mention. Depending on whether or not the story needs minor adjustments or a major overhaul — and depending on if or how the current state of the entertainment industry affects the project — it could be a very long time before Pirates of the Caribbean 6 hits theaters. 

That said, we can turn to past films to piece together a potential timeline. Let's use the most recent franchise entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, as an example. It was reported way back in December 2010, six months ahead of the release of On Stranger Tides in May 2011, that Disney planned to shoot the fifth and sixth Pirates movies "back-to-back as one giant film," to be released separately. Obviously, only Pirates 5 survived that plan. After longtime franchise scribe Terry Rossio wrote a script draft, Disney struggled for a moment to secure a director. Pirates 1 through 3 director Gore Verbinski passed – then Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg were hired, Rossio's script was scrapped, and the pre-filming process started over from square one in January 2013. 

An initial release date announcement for the film didn't come until July 2014three years before Dead Men Tell No Tales launched in theaters. Deadline later announced in November 2014 that Brenton Thwaites had been cast as Will and Elizabeth's son Henry Turner – a news drop came two and a half years before the film was actually released in May 2017. 

Taking all that into consideration and knowing where Pirates 6 is in development at the moment, it could be as many as four years before we see Pirates of the Caribbean 6, judging by the timeline its predecessor operated on.

Who's in the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean 6?

No one has officially joined the Pirates 6 cast, but a popular rumor is that Disney wants Karen Gillan to lead the film, which will reportedly be centered around a female lead (more on that in a bit). The Guardians of the Galaxy actress is also one of the stars of the Jumanji reboot film series — and as an A-list movie star, she would make a great fit for the Pirates franchise. There have also been rumors that Disney is considering Emma Watson for the next Pirates movie, after she impressed in her star turn as Belle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. Heck, there was even chatter that Zac Efron would play a young Jack Sparrow in the upcoming movie. Of course, these rumors are just rumors until Disney comes forward and makes formal casting announcements. 

Possible new franchise additions aside, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales actress Kaya Scodelario (who played Captain Barbossa's daughter Carina Smyth) told ScreenRant in 2017 that she's contractually obligated to appear in one more Pirates film. It's possible that the sixth movie could just pick back up where the fifth left off with much of the same cast — including Orlando Bloom, who has been reported to return as Will Turner. But right now, it's not even clear whether or not Johnny Depp will appear in the next film. As Pirates of the Caribbean executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer told Collider in May 2020, "The [script] we're developing right now, we're not sure quite what Johnny's role is going to be. So, we're going to have to see." 

Although the Mazin-Elliott project has been in development for some time, reports are now rolling in that Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie has been cast to appear in a mysterious Pirates sequel, with her Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson also signed on to pen the script. At first glance, this information appears to be at odds with all the previous announcements regarding Pirates 6, but as it turns out Disney may just have two Pirates projects in development at once. The Hodson-Robbie project is apparently "an entirely original take" on the Pirates universe, and is thus unlikely to feature any of the characters from the mainline Pirates project — currently in the hands of Mazin and Elliott. Whether one, both or neither project will ultimately enter production is anybody's guess at this point.

What's the plot of Pirates of the Caribbean 6?

As previously mentioned, in February 2019, Disney announced that Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick had exited Pirates 6 (via Deadline). Later in the year, Craig Mazin and Ted Elliott replaced them. In a December 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sean Bailey, the now-president of production at Walt Disney Studios, said he wanted to "bring in a new energy and vitality" to the franchise — and that Reese and Wernick had been tasked with giving the film series a "kick in the pants." With the arrival of Mazin and Elliott in Reese and Wernick's place, have plans changed? Is Disney looking to go a more traditional route with Pirates 6? The announcement of the Robbie-Hodson project only raises more questions about the future of the franchise. One could imagine a content strategy wherein Mazin and Elliott put together a more "traditional" Pirates film continuing the story where Dead Men Tell No Tales left off, while Hodson gets the greenlight to experiment with a more female-driven spinoff aimed at expanding the series breadth and appeal.

Still, as with all things, we can turn to the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean film to make some educated guesses about the plot of the next movie. Dead Men Tell No Tales featured a post-credits scene that teased the return of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) as an antagonist; the Flying Dutchman captain sneaks into Will and Elizabeth's room as they sleep, prepares to attack them, and suddenly vanishes. Will believes he's dreaming, but the barnacles on the floor that he can't see prove Jones was really there. One could easily assume this means the next Pirates film will involve Jones to some degree. However, Pirates movies haven't always stayed on a continuous timeline. The sixth film could go back in time again, or focus on new pirates entirely in between the existing films. We might not hear from Davy Jones again until the seventh or eighth POTC movie. 

Many fans — including ScreenRant's Lauren Coates — have argued that Pirates of the Caribbean 6 should focus on Redd, a once-problematic character from the original Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride. In the original version of the attraction, Redd was a captive being sold in a bride auction. In 2018, the ride was updated and Redd became a female pirate auctioning off the goods she stole from the village. Gillan's alleged involvement with Pirates 6 could certainly turn that idea into a more solid theory, since both she and the animatronic figure in the ride have red hair.

Is there a trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 6?

Since the script is still being developed as of June 2020, a trailer for the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film is barely a twinkle in Disney's eye. Until then, you can watch the first four Pirates of the Caribbean films – The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest, At World's End, and On Stranger Tides – on Disney+. Dead Men Tell No Tales is currently on Hulu, and will join the others on Disney+ on July 24, 2020.

Soon enough, the powers that be will take things out from under wraps and we'll learn more about what Pirates of the Caribbean 6 has in store. It will be good to get back on the high seas for another adventure after all this time — no matter who the movie ends up being about or when we finally get to see it.