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Former Disney Exec Makes Bold Prediction About Johnny Depp And Pirates Of The Caribbean

The defamation lawsuit Johnny Depp brought against ex-wife Amber Heard ended with the Fairfax County, Virginia, jury ruling in Depp's favor on all three charges (via People). Depp, in turn, was found to have defamed Heard on one of the three claims she brought against her ex-husband in a countersuit, with $15 million awarded in damages to Depp (although Heard will only be required to pay $10.35 million due to the state's cap on punitive damages) and $2 million awarded to Heard at the end of the trial. Throughout the trial and its aftermath, public opinion swayed significantly toward Depp's side, even despite Heard's own testimonies, presented evidence, and the fact that a British court ruled in 2020 that Depp had physically abused Heard on a number of occasions (via The Guardian).

According to Entertainment Weekly, Heard plans to appeal the lawsuit's verdict, so the public may not be rid of the much-publicized case yet. For now, speculation runs rampant about the future of both Depp's and Heard's acting careers after the trial, but one anonymous former Disney executive made a bold prediction for Depp and the future of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series he helped make a massive hit.

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A former Disney executive said they think it makes sense for Johnny Depp to return to the Pirates franchise

People recently reported that an anonymous former Disney executive thinks the company could conceivably ask Johnny Depp to return to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise in the wake of his defamation trial against Amber Heard. The former executive, whom People did not name, said that there is too much box office potential for a fan-favorite character like Jack Sparrow not to return to a blockbuster franchise.

"With [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer riding high on the massive success of Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick,' there is huge appetite for bringing back bankable Hollywood stars in massively popular franchises," the former executive told People.

Bringing Depp back as Jack Sparrow surely would bring significant attention back to the "Pirates" franchise, which has not released a film since the fifth installment, "Dead Men Tell No Tales," in 2017. According to Box Office Mojo, the movies are the 16th-highest-grossing film franchise ever in the U.S. and Canada, having collectively made over $1.45 billion. The franchise's first movie, which introduced Depp as the goofy yet cunning pirate, was the second-highest-grossing film of 2003, just behind Pixar's "Finding Nemo" (via Box Office Mojo). The first "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel, "Dead Man's Chest," was by far the best-performing film at the box office in 2006 (via Box Office Mojo).

Bruckheimer, who also produces the "Bad Boys" franchise, recently told the Times that two scripts for future "Pirates" movies are being written — one as a spin-off starring Margot Robbie and another without Robbie's involvement. Bruckheimer also said that Depp was not expected to return for now but noted that the future has not been decided yet.

How Pirates of the Caribbean could work Jack Sparrow back into the series

Reports of a future "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie featuring Margot Robbie date back to 2020, when The Hollywood Reporter wrote that a Robbie-starring film would serve as a completely original story using the franchise's title. Even then, THR reported that the project would be separate from the next entry in the main series. A second anonymous Hollywood source, who has worked on past "Pirates" movies, told People that they would expect Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney to make Robbie's character Jack Sparrow's daughter and include Johnny Depp in a cameo appearance to show to test audiences.

There is one snag to those theories — although Depp claimed that he had wanted to keep playing Jack Sparrow through the end of the "Pirates" franchise, he testified during the defamation trial that nothing would convince him to work with Disney on future projects. While that testimony does not legally prevent Depp from choosing to return to the franchise, it is slightly unclear whether Disney — or other major Hollywood studios — will show interest in bringing Depp on.

The actor's former agent, Tracey Jacobs, testified that it grew harder to work with Depp in the late 2000s and 2010s since he had gained a reputation for consistently showing up late to the set of almost every movie he made (via People). A third anonymous source told People that they don't quite believe Depp would turn down a major paycheck from Disney to return as Jack Sparrow given the well-publicized financial troubles that dogged Depp in the 2010s (via Insider).