Yesterday Disney announced that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is being kicked from summer 2016 to July 7, 2017. Apparently they’re doing this because they want to get the script “just right”—hahahaha, like the script in these movies matter. This is the second delay for the latest installment in the Johnny Depp: Private Islands Are Expensive franchise. The first pushed it from summer 2015 to 2016—a good call, as summer 2015 will be dominated by the Avengers—and now it’s moved to 2017, where it will get pantsed by the Justice League.
The Pirates of the Caribbean is a $3.7 billion dollar franchise. Though domestic returns have steadily declined since the second one in 2006, international box office got stronger, which has kept the franchise afloat (see what I did there?). So it’s not like I don’t understand this decision. But the shuffling and reshuffling of the release date shows just how competitive the franchise landscape is. 2017 is three years away, but we already have an idea of what the slate will be. Marvel has slated two for that summer, Fox is expecting to release a Fantastic Four sequel, Warner Brothers has already slotted Justice League and The LEGO Movie 2, and Pixar will have a new movie in June. So far Pirates has July 7 to itself, but it’s already bookended by titled projects, including Despicable Me 3, a direct competitor for its family audience.
Here’s a tip, for those who plan release schedules: There are actually nine more months in a year. If tent poles and franchises are going to be the lifeblood of mainstream filmmaking, then you have got to stop releasing them all within twelve weeks of one another. Spread it out a little. Marvel just made a mint because they released Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the much less competitive month of April. Catching Fire did very well in November last year. Families are always looking for movies they can see together at Christmas—give December a shot. Or just, you know, skip this one. Is anyone really asking for a FIFTH Pirates movie?
Attached – Johnny Depp with Amber Heard on the Black Mass set earlier this week.