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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Producer Jerry Bruckheimer on getting Screenplays right

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer
Actor Johnny Depp, “Captain Jack Sparrow” and Jerry Bruckheimer, Producer at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on May 11 in Moscow, Russia © 2011 Disney Enterprises

Jerry Bruckheimer has produced some of the most iconic movies in the past 40 years, including Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Crimson Tide, Black Hawk Down, National Treasure and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

The fourth in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, directed by Oscar nominated Rob Marshall, opens on Friday. In his latest adventure Captain Jack Sparrow encounters an old love, Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and sets sail, albeit unwillingly, on Blackbeard’s ship in search of the famous Fountain of Youth.

Jerry spoke of his newest movie and the challenge they are to bring to the screen at the press day for the film.

There had been two years between the other Pirates films and four years until this film, why did this one take so long?

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Penelope Cruz, Sam Claflin, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane at the world premiere at Disneyland on May 7, 2011 in Anaheim, United States © 2011 Disney Enterprises

Screenplays are the hardest thing to try to get right. They look so simple when they work, but they really destroy your brain cells trying to get them there. So, we took our time, got it right. Johnny was really instrumental in working during the script process with us.

But you also have to find the cast availability, too. Johnny is busy and a lot of our other cast members were busy. So we’re very lucky that we finally found a time when they were all available together to make the picture. Then we brought in Rob. It was a real coup to get him. We’re fortunate that he agreed to do this. It’s shocking that he did, but we’re thrilled because he’s an ultimate master at what he does. So we got very lucky.

What was the biggest challenge on this film?

The most difficult thing was getting the screenplay right. That was the hardest thing we tried to do. That’s what worries everybody. Had we not had (screenwriters) Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, I don’t think any of the people involved would be here, starting with Rob [Marshall] first because he got attracted to the material.

The same thing with Penelope [Cruz]. If it’s not on the page, it’s not going to be on the screen. So, the most difficult thing for producers is to have a script that attracts this kind of talent.

Pirates 2 and 3 weren’t critical successes, did that bother you?

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer
Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Director Rob Marshall and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer at the world premiere © 2011 Disney Enterprises

Pirates 2 and 3 did get bashed a little bit, but you have to understand that Pirates 2 was the biggest of the bunch. Pirates 3 reached almost $1 billion. So they were enormously successful movies even though the media didn’t understand them as much as the audience did. That’s who we make movies for!

When three films together bring in $2.6 billion dollars worldwide, you understand pretty quickly that a message is being sent to you by audiences. The numbers are wonderful, but what’s even better is that they tell you something of what these films have meant to moviegoers. Audiences fell in love with the pirate genre all over again after an absence of some three decades, and they certainly fell head-over-heels for Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.

What were some of the things that you wanted to address that maybe were criticized in the last two movies that might have been confusing?

We really didn’t have to address anything, because we started fresh. We finished our trilogy, and we paid off all of our characters. So we started introducing new characters, which makes it much easier to not have as long of a movie, because we have less characters and less plot lines to deal with each character.

This is something that Rob accomplished very well by the end of the picture. It was shorter, not quite as complicated and there were less characters to deal with.

What’s it like working with Johnny after all these years?

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Jerry Bruckheimer, Director Rob Marshall, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Ian McShane, Keith Richards, Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Sam Claflin at world premiere
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Director Rob Marshall, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Ian McShane, Keith Richards, Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Sam Claflin at the world premiere © 2011 Disney Enterprises

At this point, Johnny is the most popular actor in the world, one of the best actors in the world, and certainly the most committed and hard-working. He’s somebody you love working with, because every day he comes on the set with a smile, ready to go to work and have a great time, yet works very heard.

Since you’re dealing with a franchise that’s made billions of dollars, what’s your barometer for success when this opens?

Well, the success part is up to Disney. We’re all hoping it makes a lot of money.

What’s the timeline for Pirates 5 and 6, especially when you already have a draft of the script and you have all of these actors’ schedules to deal with?

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Director Rob Marshall, Penelope Cruz, John Deluca and Jerry Bruckheimer, UK Premiere
Director Rob Marshall, actress Penelope Cruz, John Deluca and Jerry Bruckheimer arrives for the UK Premiere at Vue Westfield on May 12, 2011 in London, England © 2011 Disney Enterprises

As far as the timeline, it took awhile to get this script to a place where we all were comfortable with it. We just got a very rough first draft in (for Pirates 5), so that will take some time.

We hope that we can bring it to you quicker than we have in the past, and we hope that happens.

We’ll see if we can get you a great piece of entertainment that everybody will enjoy. It’s about quality.

You and Johnny are doing The Lone Ranger soon. What kind of movie can we expect, and have you cast The Ranger yet?

Nothing new yet on the casting. We’re in the process of meeting people right now. So it’s just starting for The Lone Ranger.

What kind of movie will it be compared to this film?

I think it’ll have its own tone. It’s going to have a whole different feel to it than what we’ve done in the past, but it’ll be special because Johnny is in it. He’s got a real interesting take on the character of Tonto.