Over the 2010s, Margot Robbie became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. She’s a two-time Oscar nominee with a hot production company, developing interesting, trophy-baiting projects for herself (I, Tonya), and for other people (Promising Young Woman), as well as creating television projects (Dollface). She’s a franchise star, surviving the crash-and-burn years of Zack Snyder’s DC universe and emerging as fan-favorite Harley Quinn. And she still does Serious Dramas—earlier this year, she joined David O. Russell’s new project. Margot Robbie is Busy. So I am a little confused as to why Margot Robbie is going to develop a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Don’t get me wrong, if this news broke three or four years ago, I wouldn’t even blink. But over the last four years, Robbie went from “the hot girl in The Wolf of Wall Street” to “Margot Robbie”. She’s in demand with some of the highest profile, most prestigious filmmakers working, she is fully capable of bringing a variety of interesting projects to the table for herself, and she already has a franchise of her own, it’s not like she NEEDS another one. At this particular point in her career, I don’t see the appeal of doing a Pirates movie for Margot Robbie. You know what this reminds me of? When Ben Affleck signed on to do Batman. Like, sure, you CAN do it, and maybe it will even be good, but like…WHY? At THIS juncture?? DO it???
This isn’t even the only Pirates movie in development. In a two-prong approach that sends me back to the nightmarish development of Ghostbusters 2016, Disney has Craig Mazin, lately of Chernobyl, developing a reboot of Pirates, presumably as a way to refresh the franchise without Johnny Depp. Margot Robbie’s project, which will be written by her Birds of Prey scribe, Christina Hodson, is being described neither as a reboot, nor a spin-off, nor a sequel. It will be a “wholly original” story…using the same world and tone established by the original franchise (which is a spin-off, sorry semantical Disney PR flak). This is how the lady Ghostbusters were treated—they were not allowed to play in the main sandbox, they had to take a pail of sand and do something else with it over there, where they couldn’t get their girl cooties on the so precious REAL ghostbusters.
I’m always game for a pirate movie, though I would much rather someone commit $250 million to a biopic of Bartholomew Roberts or Madame Ching, but this “go make your girl pirate movie while we make the REAL pirate movie over here” approach sucks. We know it sucks, we’ve already seen how this kind of thing works out. And frankly, Margot Robbie is past it at this point in her career. This is a lateral move for her, at best. I hope the paycheck is f-cking enormous, because otherwise I don’t get it.