Earlier this week, Walt Disney Pictures gave their presentation at CinemaCon, which ended with the premiere of three extended clips from their summer tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which puts Johnny Depp back in the hat and boots of Captain Jack Sparrow for a new adventure.
After an introduction by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Rob Marshall, they showed three fairly long sequences from the movie, all in Disney Digital 3D, and it really gave the footage a very distinctive look from the other three movies because it was filmed in 3D.
The first clip opens with Jack being dragged into a giant room by soldiers and being shackled to a chair in front of a table on which is a bunch of food with a plate full of crème puffs directly in front of him. He tries to shift his chair closer in order to get one to eat and he kicks the table and the crème puff goes flying into the air and gets stuck on the elaborate chandelier above him. At that point, the door at the back opens and a couple of regal types stride in wearing ornate white wigs, with Richard Griffiths in the lead, who we learn is King George II. (Avid obscure movie buffs may remember Griffiths playing a similarly sartorial character in Stage Beauty a bunch of years back.)
The king asks if he’s the Jack Sparrow that has arrived in England to assemble a crew to find the Fountain of Youth and Jack tries to deny he’s that Jack Sparrow and they go back and forth before Jack finally admits he’s the one being referred to, adding, “I believe there should be a captain in there.” The two of them continue about the Fountain of Youth, but Jack is making so much noise motioning with his hands still in chains, the king demands that he be unshackled to stop all that noise. The king says he already has a ship and a captain ready for the journey and he calls in the man who arranged it, who hobbles in on a pegleg. The camera pans up to show that sure enough, it’s Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Hector Barbossa, also wearing a similarly ridiculous wig. Jack asks Hector what happened to the Black Pearl and he’s told that he lost it at the same time that he lost his leg, and Jack jumps over the table to get at his old arch-nemesis.
The second clip takes place on Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, as Jack is below deck with the crew (including Stephen Graham as a new character) talking about staging a mutiny on Blackbeard, which Jack urges on by telling them men they’ll surely die in Blackbeard’s quest to find the fountain. As they all stream out, Jack sees Penelope Cruz’s Angelica sleeping so he lies down on the bed in the space next to her, and she groggily says that if she’s dreaming he would keep the sword and the boots on, so he says, “You’re dreaming,” but she’s no dummy and she angrily kicks him out. Jack then heads onto deck where a huge sword fight is happening between Jack’s men and creepy undead pirates who can’t be killed and Jack heads to Blackbeard’s quarters to throw the mutiny. When Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane) comes out, quite cross about having been woken up by the fighting, he motions with his sword and the rigging starts to come to life and grabbing all of Jack’s men, even the ones who try to jump overboard, leaving Jack himself hanging upside down in front of Blackbeard. Jack says, “I want to report a mutiny.”
The final clip opened with an aerial shot of a large island full of trees where we follow Jack as he’s cutting his way through the jungle before he arrives at a sharp cliff and makes a joke about it not being the right way. Blackbeard, Angelica and others follow behind him and Blackbeard insists someone jump into the water below and get to the other side; he volunteers Jack, but Angelica is insistent she can do it. In this conversation, we learn she’s Blackbeard’s daughter and her father says that if she wants to die he’ll just shoot her himself. When Jack voices his surprise at that statement, the unrepentantly evil pirate takes the challenge and calls for his men to bring him six pistols with all but two holding one bullet each. He urges Jack to pick two of the pistols and the first one Blackbeard aims point black at Angelica and pulls the trigger. After this bit has played out, they’re back to Jack being the one who will jump, so Jack asks one of the zombie types whether he would survive jumping off the cliff into the water below. This zombie throws a voodoo doll that looks like Jack over the side as Jack screams, which is quite a funny effect, but when told he would indeed survive, he jumps over the cliff himself.
After the Disney presentation, ComingSoon.net had a chance to talk briefly with the producer and director of the fourth film.
ComingSoon.net: When you sat down to make a fourth “Pirates” movie, was it important to talk about making it bigger or better in certain ways and how important was it to improve on the previous three movies?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It was always ambition to improve. It was never about scale. It was about telling a great story with wonderful, in-depth characters and interesting scenes. That’s what this movie’s all about. We never looked at “How do we make this thing bigger.” We just want to tell a great story, want to give you some action, romance, a lot of humor, take you on a ride. That’s what the movie does.
Question: At the same time, the decision to go for 3D – that had to be a way of raising the bar a little bit, in a fun way.
Rob Marshall: Absolutely. We thought about it for quite a while. I had to do some experimental work and see how that was going to be, because the truth is, we’re pioneers. We brought this 3D equipment into remote places that I don’t think there’s been a movie of this type.
Bruckheimer: No, nobody’s ever done this before.
Marshall: We were taking these very delicate cameras into actual locations in cliffs, in caves, beaches, in rain, in jungles. It really was something unique. They’re sensitive. But not every movie should be 3D. The reason this made sense is because you can become a part of the adventure: you can be inside the world with Jack Sparrow and the other characters in a way. It invites that kind of thing, because of all the different locations and the adventure and nature of the film.
CS: Your previous movies all have had incredible production design, really lush. How was playing in this time period and environment?
Marshall: I have to say, I had my same production designer on this film: John Meyer, who’s done all my movies with me. That was really nice, to be able to have him with me. a filmmaker, I’m always looking for a new challenge, something else to do. I don’t want to keep repeating the same film over and over again. That’s why I’m always looking for new challenges. Jerry asked me to do this film – Jerry and Johnny. I met with Jerry first, then I met with Jerry and Johnny. I was impressed. It was this wonderful thing that comes together when somebody asks you something. I had always loved the series, never imagining I’d be a part of it in some way. Secretly, I’d always wanted to do an action-adventure piece, because it’s something I hadn’t done. Action is something, as a choreographer–which is what I come from–is very close to me, because it’s similar. It’s creating through action, through choreography, through whatever, you’re creating a story and developing character. That was really fun for me.
CS: When you approached this film, you had source material from Tim Powers you could use, but as you’re working on the movie, do you get random ideas that could be used for a fifth or sixth or seventh movies? How often do you start thinking ahead about what could be done with the characters in more movies?
Marshall: For me, not once, only because I was so intent on making ‘Pirates 4′ worked and making sure this felt like a fresh new movie and a new start with all these new characters and new situations. The whole first act is in London. It was so great to be on dry land. Then, Geoffrey Rush’s character is so different in this one, because he’s now no longer a pirate: he’s become a privateer, and he’s working for the crown. Then, in our third act, we’re in the jungles. It was all so new and with a sense of clarity to the storyline about heading to the Fountain of Youth, which I think was really something that we all could hang the entire story on, this one central motor. It felt very new to me, and because of that, that was the focus for me.
CS: What is your romantic core for this movie? The first trilogy was really Will and Elizabeth’s story, and while Captain Jack and Angelica clearly have some chemistry and a potential for romance, what is the relationship between the two new characters, Sam Claflin’s Phillip and the mermaid Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey)?
Bruckheimer: They’re not taking Will and Elizabeth’s role, but there is a romance between them. There is something, and they come from totally different worlds. I mean, she’s a mermaid, so it’s kind of a doomed love story.
Marshall: He plays a missionary, too, so he’s on board really to save Blackbeard’s soul. He’s been commissioned by Angelica to do that. Once again, it was another completely new story, which was really exciting to explore. It’s very different. We tested the film, and we found that that’s what people loved about it, that it was fresh and new.
CS: Is the movie pretty much done, because I remember you had “Prince of Persia” done enough to show here at ShoWest last year.
Bruckheimer: I wish. We’re still working on visual effects, on the sound, on the color. We’re still in the throes of it. The picture’s basically edited, so the editing’s done, but we’re still getting visual effects shots.
Marshall: The final mush, I think.
CS: At CinemaCon, the exhibitors are the lifeblood of the industry and the films you make so do you have a chance to walk around and talk to them?
Bruckheimer: They have us locked in here. Usually you do it at a dinner or something, you get to meet the exhibitors and talk to them, but not today. Today’s a whole different thing because we’re in a huge auditorium. (laughs)
CS: I’m not sure if there’s ever been a “Pirates” movie released in the same year as a “Transformers” movie.
Bruckheimer: There hasn’t.
CS: There hasn’t, so do you and Michael Bay have any sort of side bet about which movie will win the summer?
Bruckheimer: Not at all. I wish him well, and I’m sure he wishes me well.
Thanks to James Rocchi of MSN Movies for his contribution to this interview.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opens nationwide and globally on May 20.