Pirates of the Caribbean Posters
Chapter 1 - Success Can Be a Tough Taskmaster
Success can be a tough taskmaster…and coming off of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,” which garnered more than $1 billion internationally and took third position for the top grossing films of all time, Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski were absolutely determined to once again rise to, and then go beyond, audience expectations.
“It's scary when you make a picture that's such a huge success,” confesses Bruckheimer. “You never quite know. It was against conventional wisdom that a pirate movie based on a theme park ride could be such a hit. Then we came back with the second film, and it's common knowledge in our business that a sequel will make 20 to 30 percent less than the first one. And yet, `Dead Man's Chest' made almost double of what `The Curse of the Black Pearl' took in.”
Bruckheimer attributes the massive success of the first two “Pirates of the Caribbean” films to the enormous amount of hard work put in by the filmmakers and talent on both sides of the camera. “You start with the writing, and Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio did a brilliant job creating great new characters and exciting arenas for them to work in. Then you add a director who's as talented as Gore Verbinski, who gave audiences such a thrill ride in the first film, and took them even further in the second. And what really makes it all come together is when you see actors like Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush going through the paces of what Gore, Ted and Terry worked so hard to create with characters who are engaging, funny, romantic and witty. It took a lot of energy, brain power and time on the part of Gore, Ted and Terry to work out all of those amazing characters, situations and set pieces.
“Then you go behind-the-scenes,” continues Bruckheimer, “with Rick Heinrichs' production design, Darek Wolski's cinematography, Hans Zimmer's music, and the rest of the people who worked so hard on these pictures and helped make them the huge success they became.”
For the third film, the producer and director encouraged screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio to push that envelope even further…quite literally, to the ends of the earth. “What we set for ourselves with Jerry, Gore, Johnny and everyone else,” says Elliott, “was to figure out a way to do two more movies that were of a piece with the first one, and yet still be unique in their own right. What we had to do with each one was, as quickly as we could in the story, satisfy expectations. And then set ourselves the challenge to go past that, and create events that people could never anticipate. Which isn't easy.”
“The overall theme that we're dealing with in `At World's End,'” adds Terry Rossio, “is the nature of what it takes to be a good person, and each person faces that struggle. We embrace the idea that all pirate movies are about moral ambiguity, and good people can be forced into circumstances wherein they do something bad. So from the point of view of every character, they all have to go through that challenge, that transformation, facing their own ability to do something they're not comfortable with, and making really tough choices. In that sense, every character in the story has a villainous moment at some point.”
“There's never a trust between any of our characters in the movie,” adds Jerry Bruckheimer. “There's always a devious plan to benefit their own ends. `At World's End' is a movie about who's going to end up where, when and how, with constant one-upmanship.”
Once again, as with the first two films, Elliott and Rossio were constant presences on the set, from the Caribbean to Hollywood and beyond. “Their contribution was enormous,” says Bruckheimer, “because they would work with Gore and the actors right on set to make sure everything was right for the movie and their characters.
“Screenwriting is a real craft,” Bruckheimer explains. “Back in the 1930s and `40s, Hollywood decided to bring out journalists, novelists, anyone who could write, and many of them failed at screenwriting, which is a very different art form. Ted and Terry are masters of this craft. They love movies, old and new. They're on top of everything happening in film. They know what it takes to write a great character, because they've studied and worked at it for years. And they're fresh…Ted and Terry take pirate movie conventions that might seem mundane and clichéd, and flip them in a way to make them interesting and new. Along with Gore, they've completely re-invented the entire pirate movie genre.”
The geographic range of the story expands all the way to old Singapore and mythical realms beyond, such new characters as Chinese pirate Captain Sao Feng are introduced, and one crucial character is re-introduced: Captain Barbossa, freshly returned from the other side of the pale, this time in an uneasy alliance with his old nemesis Jack Sparrow against the forces of the East India Trading Company. We also get to meet the entire international Pirate Brethren in their hideaway of Shipwreck City, a rogue's gallery of cutthroats from all the seven seas, including the Keeper of the Code, Teague, played by none other than immortal Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Also returning from the first film are Murtogg and Mullroy, the two thickest skulls in 18th century British uniforms.
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