Margot Robbie has revealed that her female-led Pirates of the Caribbean spin-off movie is no longer moving forward at Disney. The two-time Oscar nominated actress shared the news in a new Vanity Fair cover story. The revelation comes after it was announced in June 2020 that she would be the star of the new film, which would be penned by her Birds of Prey screenwriter, Christina Hodson.
“We had an idea and we were developing it for a while, ages ago, to have more of a female-led — not totally female-led, but just a different kind of story — which we thought would’ve been really cool,” Robbie, who has garnered attention in recent years for her portrayal of Harley Quinn in another popular franchise, the DCEU, told Vanity Fair about the intended Disney movie. “But I guess they don’t want to do it.”
Specific plot details about the Pirates film were never revealed. All Robbie ever said publicly about her and Hodson’s idea for the project was that it would be more of a “girl power” movie, and would bring “a very key female element to that world.”
When the news was reported in summer 2020 that Disney was in early development on Robbie’s Pirates movie, it was also announced that a second reboot was also in development. The second film was scribed by series veteran Ted Elliott and Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin. Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced all five Pirates movies starring Johnny Depp that have been released, was attached to both new projects at the time.
In an interview he gave to The Sunday Times in May, Bruckheimer said that both upcoming films were still in development. The Academy Award-winning producer also confirmed that Depp wouldn’t be involved the future of the Pirates series, despite rumors to the contrary.
“Yes. We’re talking to Margot Robbie. We are developing two Pirates scripts — one with her, one without,” Bruckheimer said while discussing the franchise’s future. “[Will Depp be back?] Not at this point. The future is yet to be decided.”
The previous Pirates movies, which all starred Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, grossed $1.5 billion domestically and $3.07 billion internationally. All five of the series’ entries have grossed more than $650 million worldwide. The second and fifth installments – 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest and 2011’s On Stranger Tides – both passed the $1 billion mark.
The cancellation news of Robbie’s Pirates reboot comes as Disney is planning to freeze hiring and cut some jobs, CNN is reporting. The company is striving to move Disney+ to profitability against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.
Chief Executive Bob Chapek recently sent a memo to Disney’s leaders, saying the company is instituting a hiring freeze. The company is also anticipating “some small staff reductions” as it looks to manage costs.
“While certain macroeconomic factors are out of our control, meeting these goals requires all of us to continue doing our part to manage the things we can control – most notably, our costs,” Chapek wrote in the memo.
The move came after it was revealed on Tuesday that Disney missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly earnings. The entertainment company racked up more losses from its push into streaming video, which it refers to as its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business. Shares of the company fell more than 13% on Wednesday following its results.
Disney has said its fast-growing streaming service added 12 million subscribers in its fiscal fourth quarter, but still reported an operating loss of nearly $1.5 billion. The company also said that Disney+ would become profitable in fiscal 2024, with losses having peaked in the quarter.
But Wall Street analysts voiced concern about the escalating streaming costs for Disney+, which is known in part for its original Star Wars and Marvel television shows. MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson said this week that “the company has to prove that their pivot to DTC will be worth the investment price that is currently being paid.”
Corporate America is making deep cuts to its employee base to brace for an economic downturn. For example, one of Disney’s studio peers, Warner Bros Discovery, has undergone dramatic cost-cutting efforts, including layoffs, as the recently merged company restructures its content operations.
Disney has already has begun looking at content and marketing spending, but Chapek said the cuts would not sacrifice quality. Hiring will be limited to a small subset of critical positions, and some staff reductions are anticipated as the company looks to make itself more cost-efficient, he noted.
“Our transformation is designed to ensure we thrive not just today, but well into the future,” Chapek added.