Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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Pirates of the Caribbean:
The Curse of the Black Pearl
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGore Verbinski
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onWalt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean
Produced byJerry Bruckheimer
Starring
CinematographyDariusz Wolski
Edited by
Music byKlaus Badelt
Production
companies
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release dates
  • June 28, 2003 (2003-06-28) (Disneyland Resort)
  • July 9, 2003 (2003-07-09) (United States)
Running time
143 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$140 million[2]
Box office$654.3 million[2]

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl[a] is a 2003 American fantasy supernatural swashbuckler film directed by Gore Verbinski. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, the film is based on Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney theme parks and is the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.[5] The film stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley. The story follows pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and blacksmith Will Turner (Bloom) as they rescue the kidnapped Elizabeth Swann (Knightley) from the crew of the Black Pearl, captained by Hector Barbossa (Rush). Barbossa's crew attempts to retrieve the final pieces of a hoard of Aztec gold to break the curse laid on them when they stole it.

After Walt Disney Studios executives created a rough treatment in 2000, Jay Wolpert developed a script in 2001, and Stuart Beattie rewrote it in early 2002. Around that time, producer Jerry Bruckheimer became involved in the project; he brought in Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio to work on the script.[6] Having previously pitched a premise in the 1990s, Elliott and Rossio added the plot device of a supernatural curse to bring the story in line with the original theme park ride. Gore Verbinski became involved as director afterwards. Filming took place from October 2002 to March 2003 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and on sets constructed around Los Angeles, California.

As the first film released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner to be rated PG-13 by the MPAA, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl had its world premiere at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, on June 28, 2003. Defying low pre-release expectations, the film was a huge box-office success—it grossed $654.3 million worldwide, making it the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2003. It received generally positive reviews from critics; Depp's performance received universal acclaim. The film has been widely cited as the film that launched Depp as a box-office leading man after many years as a cult movie star. Depp won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, in addition to Best Actor nominations at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. The Curse of the Black Pearl was also nominated for four other Academy Awards and BAFTAs. The film became the first in a franchise, and was followed by four sequels: Dead Man's Chest (2006), At World's End (2007), On Stranger Tides (2011), and Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017).

Plot[edit]

In the 18th century, Governor Weatherby Swann and his daughter, Elizabeth, sail aboard HMS Dauntless. Lieutenant Norrington's crew recovers a shipwrecked survivor, Will Turner. Elizabeth takes a gold medallion from around Will's neck before seeing a ship with black sails. Eight years later in Port Royal, Jamaica, Norrington is promoted to commodore and proposes to Elizabeth at Fort Charles. Elizabeth's corset makes her faint and fall into the water below, causing the medallion to emit a pulse. Captain Jack Sparrow, who initially arrived to "commandeer" a ship, rescues Elizabeth before escaping Commodore Norrington, who identifies Jack with his pirate brand. Will, now a blacksmith, meets Jack and fights long enough for Sparrow to be imprisoned.

That night, Port Royal is attacked by the Black Pearl, the ship Elizabeth Swann saw years earlier, searching for the medallion. Invoking parley, Elizabeth is taken aboard to meet Captain Barbossa. Although she gave her name as "Elizabeth Turner" to conceal her identity as the governor's daughter, Barbossa takes Elizabeth with them. Barbossa explains that the medallion is one of 882 Aztec gold pieces in a stone chest used to bribe Cortés to stop his slaughter, but because of Cortés's greed, the heathen gods placed a curse on the gold. Barbossa's crew found the treasure at Isla de Muerta, but after spending it, they feel and taste nothing, and turn into immortal undead skeletons in the moonlight. To lift the curse, Barbossa's crew must return all the gold with their blood. Having discovered that "Bootstrap Bill" Turner sent a piece to his child, Barbossa sent Bootstrap to the bottom of the ocean.[b] Assuming Elizabeth is Bootstrap's child, Barbossa intends to use her blood instead.

To save Elizabeth, Will frees Jack, who learns that Turner is the son of Bootstrap Bill. They distract Norrington with a staged attempt to steal the Dauntless, allowing them to commandeer the HMS Interceptor, then head to Tortuga to find Joshamee Gibbs and recruit a crew. Will learns from Gibbs that Sparrow was captain of the Black Pearl before Barbossa organized a mutiny and marooned him on an island. Arriving at Isla de Muerta, Jack and Will sneak into the treasure grotto, where Barbossa fails to lift the curse with Elizabeth's "Turner" blood. Will and Elizabeth escape with the medallion on the Interceptor, while Sparrow is captured by Barbossa and locked in the brig aboard the Pearl. A battle ensues between the Pearl and the Interceptor, with the crew captured and the ship destroyed. Having realized it is his blood Barbossa needs, Will surrenders himself to ensure Elizabeth's freedom. Barbossa agrees but maroons Jack and Elizabeth. The next morning, Elizabeth makes a smoke signal, then Jack and Elizabeth are rescued aboard the Dauntless. Elizabeth accepts Norrington's marriage proposal on the condition to rescue Will from Barbossa.

That night, Jack and Norrington make a plan to ambush the pirates at Isla de Muerta, but Norrington plans to ambush the pirates himself and Sparrow convinces Barbossa to not lift the curse until after they've killed Norrington's men. Having anticipated the battle to come, Jack secretly palms a coin for himself to become immortal, then frees Will and duels Barbossa in the cave. As Norrington's crew battle skeletons aboard the Dauntless, Elizabeth sneaks off to free Jack's crew, who flee on the Pearl, leaving Swann to save Will and Jack by herself. After Elizabeth helps defeat some of Barbossa's crewmen, Sparrow shoots Barbossa just as Will returns both remaining coins with their blood into the chest, lifting the curse. Now mortal, Barbossa dies from Sparrow's gunshot, and the rest of Barbossa's crew are killed or surrendered.

At Port Royal, Will declares his love for Elizabeth, before rescuing Jack, who was about to be hanged. After a scuffle, Jack and Will are surrounded. Elizabeth stands by their side, choosing Turner over Norrington, who stands down. Sparrow falls into the water, then is rescued by the Black Pearl and her new crew. Norrington decides to give Sparrow "one day's head start" before pursuit. Governor Swann gives his blessings to Will and Elizabeth, while Jack Sparrow is made captain of the Pearl and sails off to the horizon.

Cast[edit]

  • Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: A famed and crafty pirate; an eccentric and sun-stroked trickster characterized by his slightly drunken swagger, slurred speech and awkwardly flailing hand gestures. Jack Sparrow has gained a reputation with made-up stories of how he escaped from the deserted island he was put on. He is determined to regain the Black Pearl, which he captained ten years before the events of the film. Among other actors, the role was originally written especially for Hugh Jackman, thus the name "Jack Sparrow"; however, he was not well known outside of his native Australia, so Disney cast the more famous Depp as Jack.[7] Depp found the script quirky: rather than trying to find treasure, the crew of the Black Pearl were trying to return it in order to lift their curse; also, the traditional mutiny had already taken place.[8] Initially Sparrow was, according to Bruckheimer, "a young Burt Lancaster, just the cocky pirate." At the first read-through, Depp surprised the rest of the cast and crew by portraying the character in an off-kilter manner.[9] After researching 18th-century pirates, Depp compared them to modern rock stars and decided to base his performance on Keith Richards,[10] who would appear as Jack's father in the third film. Although Verbinski and Bruckheimer had confidence in Depp, partly because it would be Bloom who was playing the traditional Errol Flynn type,[8] Disney executives were confused, asking Depp whether the character was drunk or gay, and Michael Eisner at one point proclaimed, "He's ruining the film!"[9] Even Bruckheimer "was slightly uncomfortable" with Depp's decision to actually cap his teeth with gold. Depp later recalled, "I said, 'Look, these are the choices I made. You know my work. So either trust me or give me the boot.' And luckily, they didn't."[10]
  • Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa: The captain of the Black Pearl, he was Captain Jack Sparrow's first mate before he led a mutiny ten years before. He and his crew stole cursed Aztec gold, for which they are cursed to walk the earth forever. Barbossa was conceptualized as a villain, as a "dark trickster" and evil counterpart to Jack Sparrow,[11] Johnny Depp created the name "Hector Barbossa" on set though the name was never revealed onscreen. Verbinski approached Rush for the role of Barbossa, as he knew he would not play it with attempts at complexity, but with a simple villainy that would suit the story's tone.[8] Contrarily, Rush felt that he was playing the unsung hero of the film, who only dreamed about lifting the curse and living as a rich rogue with his prized pirate bride and developed an intricate backstory for the character to play him more convincingly.[12] Originally, Rush was only second choice for the role behind Robert De Niro, who turned it down as he expected the film to flop like previous pirate films did.[13]
  • Orlando Bloom as Will Turner: A blacksmith's apprentice working in Port Royal who is in love with Elizabeth Swann. Will struggles with the fact his father was a pirate, known as "Bootstrap" Bill, unable to reconcile that he was a good man too. Tobey Maguire, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Ben Peyton, Christopher Masterson, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger were considered for the role.[14] Tom Hiddleston auditioned for the role.[15] Bloom read the script after Geoffrey Rush, whom he was working with on Ned Kelly, suggested it to him.[16]
  • Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann: The daughter of Governor Weatherby Swann, Elizabeth has been fascinated with pirates since childhood. During the Black Pearl's attack on Port Royal, she gives her name as Turner and is mistaken for "Bootstrap" Bill's child. She also is in love with Will Turner. Knightley came as a surprise to Verbinski; he had not seen her performance in Bend It Like Beckham and was impressed by her audition.[8]
  • Jack Davenport as Norrington: An officer in the Royal Navy who is in love with Elizabeth and has a deep-seated dislike for pirates. The character was only named "Norrington" in the film, whereas his first name "James" was only revealed in a deleted scene. He first served as Lieutenant aboard HMS Dauntless in the beginning, then was a Captain promoted to Commodore for the remainder of the film.
  • Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs: Jack Sparrow's loyal first mate. The name "Joshamee Gibbs" only appeared in the credits, while only his last name was named onscreen. He was once a sailor for the Royal Navy, serving under Lieutenant Norrington aboard HMS Dauntless, and is the one who tells Will about the mutiny against Jack Sparrow as well as the pirate's marooning and legendary escape.
  • Zoe Saldana as Anamaria: A female pirate who signs up to join Will Turner and Mr. Gibbs for a chance to confront Jack Sparrow for stealing her ship. He promises her the Interceptor in an attempt to assuage her. Screenwriter Terry Rossio confirmed that the name was chosen simply because "AnaMaria" is the middle name of his daughter.[17][18]
  • Jonathan Pryce as Governor Weatherby Swann: father of Elizabeth Swann and Governor of Port Royal, Jamaica. Tom Wilkinson was negotiated with to play the part,[19] Brian Cox turned down the role as he didn't want to work with Depp,[20] but the role went to Pryce, whom Depp idolized.[8]
  • Treva Etienne as Koehler: A member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl. Among other roles in the film, he is one of the pirates who visits Jack Sparrow in his prison cell and is later killed by Commodore Norrington.
  • David Bailie as Cotton: A member of Jack's crew. He is introduced as a sailor who is mute because he had his tongue cut out and now has a parrot to talk for him.
  • Lee Arenberg as Pintel: A member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl. Along with Ragetti, Pintel provides the majority of the comic relief for the pirate side of the story. He says "Hello poppet" to Elizabeth, a line used in later films, as well as has an issue whenever someone says "parley".
  • Mackenzie Crook as Ragetti: A member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl. Along with Pintel, Ragetti provides the majority of the comic relief for the pirate side of the story. He has a wooden eye that never seems to stay in place.
  • Trevor Goddard as Grapple: A member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl. This was Goddard's last on-screen appearance before his death.
  • Isaac C. Singleton Jr. as Bo'sun: A member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl.
  • Brye Cooper as Mallott, a member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl.
  • Michael Berry Jr. as Twigg, a member of Barbossa's cursed crew aboard the Black Pearl.

Supporting characters appearing in the film include Martin Klebba as Marty, a dwarf pirate; Damian O'Hare as Lt. Gillette; Greg Ellis as Officer; as well as Giles New and Angus Barnett as Murtogg and Mullroy. Although characters like Marty only had a single line of dialogue in the film, each of these characters reprise their roles in the Pirates sequels, respectively.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In 2001, Jay Wolpert wrote a script based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which was based on a story created by the Walt Disney Studios executives Brigham Taylor, Michael Haynes, and Josh Harmon. This story featured Will Turner as a prison guard who releases Sparrow to rescue Elizabeth, who is being held for ransom money by Captain Blackheart.[6] By March 2002, Disney brought Stuart Beattie in to rewrite the script because of his knowledge of piracy.[21] Beattie stated that he talked about making a pirate movie based on the ride while tossing a frisbee with a friend, and wrote a first draft titled "Quest for the Caribbean" while on exchange to Oregon State University in 1991.[22][23][24]

Screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio notably thought about a pirate film based on the ride during the early 1990s, having pitched the idea after completing work on the 1992 film Aladdin as a premise to studio executives who were not interested at the time.[25] Undeterred, the writing team refused to give up the dream, waiting for a studio to pick up their take on a pirate tale.[26] Having worked with Disney on Aladdin and the 2002 film Treasure Planet, among other successful films, Elliott and Rossio were also brought in for Pirates of the Caribbean to give it a "more supernatural spin".[21] Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were the final writers to receive screenplay credit, while all four writers received "Screen story by" credits.

When Dick Cook managed to convince producer Jerry Bruckheimer to join the project,[27] he rejected Jay Wolpert's script because it was "a straight pirate movie."[28] Later in March 2002, Bruckheimer brought Elliott and Rossio,[28] who suggested making a supernatural curse—as described in the opening narration of the ride—the film's plot.[29]

Disney was unsure whether to release the film in theaters or direct-to-video. The studio was interested in Matthew McConaughey as Sparrow because of his resemblance to Burt Lancaster, who had inspired that script's interpretation of the character. If they chose to release it direct-to-video, Christopher Walken or Cary Elwes would have been their first choices.[27]

In May 2002, Gore Verbinski signed on to direct Pirates of the Caribbean.[21] He was attracted to the idea of using modern technology to resurrect a genre that had disappeared after the Golden Age of Hollywood and recalled his childhood memories of the ride, feeling the film was an opportunity to pay tribute to the "scary and funny" tone of it.[30]

The role of "Jack Sparrow" was originally written especially for Hugh Jackman; however, he was not well known outside of his native Australia, so Disney cast the more famous Depp as Jack.[7] Jim Carrey was considered for the part, but the production schedule for Pirates of the Caribbean conflicted with Bruce Almighty. Other actors considered for the role include Michael Keaton and Christopher Walken. Eventually, Johnny Depp was cast as Bruckheimer felt he could give the character the edge.[31] Although Cook had been a strong proponent of adapting Disney's rides into films, the box-office failure of The Country Bears (2002) made Michael Eisner attempt to shut down production of Pirates of the Caribbean. However, Verbinski told his concept artists to keep working on the picture, and when Eisner came to visit, the executive was astonished by what had been created.

As recalled in the book DisneyWar, Eisner asked "Why does it have to cost so much?" Bruckheimer replied, "Your competition is spending $150 million," referring to franchises like The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix. Eisner concurred, but with the stigma attached to theme-park adaptations, Eisner requested Verbinski and Bruckheimer remove some of the more overt references to the ride in the Pirates of the Caribbean script, such as a scene where Sparrow and Turner enter the cave via a waterfall. Another change made was adding The Curse of the Black Pearl as a subtitle, should the film be a hit and lend itself to sequels like Raiders of the Lost Ark, which brought protest due to the Black Pearl being the name of the ship and nothing to do with the pirates' curse. Although Verbinski thought the subtitle was nonsense, Eisner refused to back down and The Curse of the Black Pearl remained the subtitle, although on most posters and trailers the words were so small as to be barely visible.[3][4]

Influence of the Monkey Island series of games[edit]

Ted Elliott was allegedly writing a George Lucas-produced animated film adaptation of The Curse of Monkey Island, which was cancelled before its official announcement, three years prior to the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. This film was allegedly in production at Industrial Light and Magic before being cancelled.[32] Ron Gilbert, the creator of the Monkey Island series, has jokingly expressed a bitterness towards Pirates of the Caribbean films, specifically the second film, for its similarities to his game.[33] Gilbert has also stated that Tim Powers' 1987 novel On Stranger Tides, which was adapted into the fourth Pirates film, was the principal source of inspiration for his video games.[34] Pirates screenwriter Terry Rossio mentioned how Disney was hit with at least six plagiarism lawsuits for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie for supposedly stealing elements of the Monkey Island video game and stuff from the On Stranger Tides novel, despite there being a ride at Disneyland and also a first draft screenplay by other writers.[35]

Filming and design[edit]

Verbinski did not want an entirely romanticized feel to the film: he wanted a sense of historical fantasy. Most of the actors wore prosthetics and contact lenses. Depp had contacts that acted as sunglasses, while Rush and Lee Arenberg wore dulled contacts that gave a sinister feel to the characters. Mackenzie Crook wore two contacts to represent his character's wooden eye: a soft version, and a harder version for when it protrudes. In addition, their teeth and scurvy skin were dyed on,[36] although Depp did have gold teeth added, which he forgot to remove after filming.[citation needed] Depp also used a genuine pistol which was made in 1760 in London, which the crew bought from a dealer in Connecticut.[36] A number of swords were built for the production by blacksmith Tony Swatton.[37] The crew spent five months creating the cavern in which Barbossa and the Black Pearl crew attempt to reverse their curse,[25] filling it with five feet of water, 882 Aztec coins, and some gold paint on the styrofoam rocks for more impressions of treasure. The crew also built the fortress at Port Royal in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and Governor Swann's palace was built at Manhattan Beach.[36] A fire broke out in September 2002, causing $525,000 worth of damage, though no one was injured.[38]

The barge used for Dauntless

The filmmakers chose St. Vincent as their primary shooting location, as it contained the quietest beach they could find, and built three piers and a backlot for Port Royal and Tortuga.[36] Of most importance to the film were the three ships: Black Pearl, Dauntless, and Interceptor. For budget reasons, the ships were built on docks, with only six days spent in the open sea for the battle between Black Pearl and Interceptor.[39] Dauntless and Black Pearl were built on barges, with computer-generated imagery finishing the structures. Black Pearl was also built on the Spruce Goose stage, in order to control fog and lighting.[36] Interceptor was a re-dressed Lady Washington, a full-scale replica sailing ship from Aberdeen, Washington, fully repainted before going on a 40-day voyage beginning December 2, 2002, arriving on location on January 12, 2003.[40] A miniature was also built for the storm sequence.[36]

Principal photography began on October 9, 2002, and wrapped by March 7, 2003.[21] The quick shoot was only marred by two accidents: as Jack Sparrow steals Interceptor, three of the ropes attaching it to Dauntless did not break at first, and when they did snap, debris hit Depp's knee, though he was not injured, and the way the incident played out on film made it look like Sparrow merely ducks. A more humorous accident was when the boat Sparrow was supposed to arrive in at Port Royal sank.[30] In October, the crew was shooting scenes at Rancho Palos Verdes, by December they were shooting at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and in January they were at the cavern set at Los Angeles.[41] The script often changed with Elliott and Rossio on set, with additions such as Gibbs (Kevin McNally) telling Will how Sparrow allegedly escaped from an island—strapping two turtles together with rope made of his back hair—and Pryce was written into the climactic battle to keep some empathy for the audience.[30]

Because of the quick schedule of the shoot, Industrial Light & Magic immediately began visual effects work. While the skeletal forms of the pirates revealed by moonlight take up relatively little screen-time, the crew knew their computer-generated imagery forms had to convince in terms of replicating performances and characteristics of the actors, or else the transition would not work. Each scene featuring them was shot twice: a reference plate with the actors, and then without them to add in the skeletons,[25] an aesthetic complicated by Verbinski's decision to shoot the battles with handheld cameras.[30] The actors also had to perform their scenes again on the motion-capture stage.[36] With the shoot only wrapping up four months before release, Verbinski spent 18-hour days on the edit,[30] while simultaneously spending time on 600 effects shots, 250 of which were merely removing modern sailboats from shots.[42]

Music[edit]

The film score was composed by Klaus Badelt, while Hans Zimmer[43] served as music producer. Seven other composers, including Geoff Zanelli, who later went on to compose the score for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Ramin Djawadi, are credited for "additional music". Verbinski oversaw the score with Badelt and Zimmer, who headed 15 composers to finish it quickly.[30]

Composer Alan Silvestri, who had collaborated with Verbinski on Mouse Hunt and The Mexican, was originally hired to write the score for The Curse of the Black Pearl. However, due to creative differences between the producer Jerry Bruckheimer and him, Silvestri left the project before recording any material.[44] Verbinski and Bruckheimer decided to go with Hans Zimmer's team instead, who were frequent collaborators of their productions. Verbinski asked Hans Zimmer, with whom he had worked on The Ring, to step in. Zimmer declined to do the bulk of the composing, as he was busy scoring The Last Samurai, a project during which he claimed he had promised not to take any other assignments. As a result, he referred Verbinski to Klaus Badelt,[45] a relatively new composer who had been a part of Remote Control Productions (known as Media Ventures at the time) for three years.

The song Elizabeth Swann sings in the opening of the film as a child, and then later on the island marooned with Jack Sparrow, is called Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me) and was written by George Bruns with lyrics by Xavier "X" Atencio. It is the song heard throughout the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.[46]

Release[edit]

Rating[edit]

Pirates of the Caribbean was the first film released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner to be rated PG-13 by the MPAA (for action/adventure violence); one executive noted that she found the film too intense for her five-year-old child.[28] Nonetheless, the studio was confident enough to add The Curse of the Black Pearl subtitle to the film in case sequels were made,[21] and to attract older children. Verbinski disliked the new title because it is the Aztec gold rather than the ship that is cursed, so he requested the title to be unreadable on the poster.[4]

Home media[edit]

The DVD and VHS editions of the film were released December 1, 2003, in the UK and December 2, 2003, in the US,[47] with 11 million copies sold in the first week, a record for live action video.[48] It earned $235 million from DVDs as of January 2004.[49] This THX certified DVD release featured two discs, featuring three commentary tracks (Johnny Depp & Gore Verbinski; Jerry Bruckheimer, Keira Knightley & Jack Davenport; and the screenwriter team), various deleted scenes and documentaries, and a 1968 Disneyland episode about the theme park ride.[47] A special three-disc edition was released on November 2, 2004, in the U.S. and April 25, 2005, in the UK.[50]

A PSP release of the film followed on April 19, 2005.[51] The high-definition Blu-ray Disc version of the film was released on May 22, 2007.[52] This movie was also among the first to be sold at the iTunes music store. The Curse of the Black Pearl had its UK television premiere on Christmas Eve 2007 on BBC One at 20:30[53] and was watched by an estimated 7 million viewers.[54]

On 2 January 2022, The Curse of the Black Pearl was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray. However, the film's remaster was criticized by various online reviewers for being upscaled from 2K resolution, excessive application of digital noise reduction and various other shortcomings.[55][56] A review by Martin Liebman of Blu-ray.com compared the release unfavorably to the previous 2007 Blu-ray release, stating: "The picture's grain has been reduced to a meshy, artificial appearance, looking frozen and flat and certainly less than genuine and flattering. Edge enhancement is in evidence. Textures have been scrubbed down and sharpened back up. Details appear waxy and lacking complexity [...] This is just a real clunker of a UHD image and one of the least impressive the format has seen."[57]

2023 re-release[edit]

As part of Disney's 100th anniversary, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was re-released between July 7–20, 2023, on the film's own 20th anniversary.[58][59]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Before its release, many journalists expected Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to be a flop. The pirate genre had not been successful for years, with Cutthroat Island (1995) being a notable flop. The film was also based on a theme park ride, and Depp, known mostly for starring in cult films at the time, had little track record as a box-office leading man.[60]

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl opened at number 1 above Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, grossing $46,630,690 in its opening weekend and $70,625,971 since its Wednesday launch.[61] It would also outgross another pirate-themed film, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.[62] The film was overtaken by Bad Boys II during its second weekend, but still made $34 million.[63] It eventually made its way to $654,264,015 worldwide ($305,413,918 domestically and $348,850,097 overseas), becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2003.[2] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 50.64 million tickets in the US.[64]

Internationally it dominated for seven consecutive weekends at the box office,[65] tying the record of Men in Black II at the time.[66] Only three movies after that broke the record; its sequel, Dead Man's Chest, (with nine consecutive #1 weekends and ten in total),[67] Avatar (with 11 consecutive #1 weekends)[68] and The Smurfs (with eight consecutive #1 weekends).[69] As of February 2021, it is the 141st-highest-grossing film of all time.[70]

Critical response[edit]

Depp (shown here in 2003) earned universal acclaim for his performance as Jack Sparrow and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. It later earned him nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 80% based on 220 reviews, and an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It may leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you'll have a good time when it's over."[71] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film received an average score of 63 out of 100, based on reviews from 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[72] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[73]

Alan Morrison of Empire felt it was "the best blockbuster of the summer," acclaiming all the comic performances despite his disappointment with the swashbuckling sequences.[74]

The performance of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow was particularly praised by critics and audiences alike. Review site PopMatters applauds Depp's performance by saying "Ingenious and mesmerizing, Johnny Depp embodies the film's essential fantasy, that a pirate's life is exciting and unfettered." James Berardinelli of ReelViews also applauds Depp's performance by saying "Pirates of the Caribbean belongs to Johnny Depp...Take away Depp, and you're left with a derivative and dull motion picture."[75]

Roger Ebert acclaimed the performances of Depp and Rush, and particularly that "It can be said that [Depp's] performance is original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie... his behavior shows a lifetime of rehearsal." However, he felt the film went on for too long,[76] a criticism shared by Kenneth Turan's negative review, feeling it "spends far too much time on its huge supporting cast of pirates (nowhere near as entertaining as everyone assumes) and on bloated adventure set pieces," despite having also enjoyed Depp's performance.[77] Mark Kermode described the film as "a triumph of turgid theme-park hackery over the art of cinema".[78]

Accolades[edit]

For his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp won several awards, including Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 10th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Best Male Performance at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards, and Best Actor at the 9th Empire Awards. Depp was also nominated for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 61st Golden Globe Awards, Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 57th British Academy Film Awards, and Best Actor at the 76th Academy Awards, in which The Curse of the Black Pearl also received nominations for Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.[79] Awards won by Curse of the Black Pearl include Best Make-up/Hair at the 57th British Academy Film Awards, Saturn Award for Best Costumes, Golden Reel Award for Sound Editing, two VES Awards for Visual Effects, and the People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture.[citation needed]

American Film Institute Lists

Sequels[edit]

The film spun off four sequels, with the latest sequel released in 2017. The first two were back-to-back sequels in 2006 and 2007, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, respectively. The third sequel, On Stranger Tides, was released in 2011. The fourth sequel, Dead Men Tell No Tales,[82] was slated to begin production in October 2014 for a summer 2016 release,[83] but was eventually delayed to May 2017.[84] It was directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.[82] As of 2018, a sixth film was in development.[85]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Originally titled as Pirates of the Caribbean[3][4]
  2. ^ Being also cursed, somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, Bootstrap Bill Turner could not die. His true fate is explained in future films.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl". British Board of Film Classification. July 10, 2003. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
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