Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3: hell for director Gore Verbinski

“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” was a huge success, unexpected as the bet was risky. What motivate Disney to urge Gore Verbinski to shoot the 2nd and 3rd part at the same time. And in pain …

Walt Disney Pictures / Jerry Bruckheimer Films

If Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a big hit in the theaters in 2003 with nearly $ 655 million in revenue, we forget that at that time, the company was considered very risky, not to say a big deal. ..

Disney’s deep angst

Disney was then very worried, to the point even that the Executives de la Major tried to unplug the project while the film was in pre-production. A pirate movie? “The worst idea that can be!” remembers Gore Verbinski, in a fascinating (and long) interview published on the Collider site in March 2021.

In addition to the firm’s big reservations on the choice of the main actor in the guise of Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp, which she did not envisage at all at the head of the ship, Disney was also haunted by the terrible failure of the film Renny Harlin’s Pirate Island, released in December 1995 in the United States.

Attempting to resuscitate the exotic adventure films carried by the tandem Geena Davis and Matthew Modine, the film is unfortunately known to be one of the biggest flops of the American Box Office, with barely $ 10 million in box office receipts and 18 small millions to international soundtrack. With $ 97 million in losses, or $ 174 million if we adjust for inflation, it is even one of the three biggest failures at the American Box Office, along with The Door to Heaven and The Thirteenth Warrior. In addition to having permanently sealed the career of its director and his actress wife …

With his five Oscar citations, including Best Actor for Johnny Depp, Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects, fourth biggest box at the American Box Office in 2003, it is an understatement to say that Disney was more than greatly relieved. to see the success of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Enough to make the firm with big ears want to quickly place an order with its new favorite filmmaker, with the start of a Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. And as quickly as possible as long as we do, history what to continue to resonate the cash drawer. The two episodes will therefore be shot at the same time …

A shoot (and a season) in Hell

“He wanted two films as quickly as possible” loose Gore Verbinski in the river interview. “While you are here [NDR : sur le tournage de Pirates des Caraïbes : la secret du coffre maudit], They’re shooting a scene from the 3rd installment before you even get on set. […] We shot the end of Pirates 3 five days after we started filming Pirates 2, because we were leaving that location. We were no longer supposed to shoot at Port Royale. We had to move to another island, to Exumas, to make our plans [NDR : une île située dans les Bahamas], then we had to go to the Dominican Republic, then to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, just to shoot for a few days. There was a scene that was supposed to be shot at the very end of Pirates 3, scheduled for 5 days, that we had to do in two, not even knowing what was going on with the Pirates 3 script, which was not ready !”


Walt disney pictures

A filming all the more complicated, already and as the director points out, that the script of Pirates 3 was not even tied up yet. In fact, it was even more drafts of ideas than a proper script. “We were in pretty good shape on Pirates 2 at the script level. We had it at 80%, but Pirates 3 were just maps that became a blueprint… and no pages, no pages. actually we had to write night after night after night, we were leaving a place, we had to write the final scene … “

A process so complicated, tedious, and where everything is mixed, that Verbinski was obliged to create some sort of War Room; one for each movie: “knowing what we were getting into, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio [NDR : les scénaristes] had their offices next to mine at Disney, and I also needed two other offices that I will have called the Story Rooms. People talked about budgets but we didn’t have a script, so we used maps, photos of filming locations, preparatory drawings … […]

I do this process there for all my films, honestly, except that generally, you do this before you get the green light! There, the green light hardly given, you already had the hammers and the nails which moved with the construction of the decorations. […] I walked in and wandered into Pirates 2’s office, chatting about the overall shape of the film, while in the next room, Pirates 3, I described what would theoretically happen with the film. story, who would betray who … “ A permanent Work in Progress script, therefore, a very delicate exercise, especially given the pharaonic scale of this simultaneous filming project.

Devastated scenery

The Stations of the Cross did not stop there for Gore Verbinski. Over the 300 days (!) Necessary to complete the simultaneous shoots, “We weren’t supposed to take a break. We had delays on a tank that wasn’t built at Exumas. It just wasn’t ready. When we got there on time to film the scene with the tank, it was still under construction “. Forced to take a break in spite of himself, Verbinski decides to already do some editing work on the rushes, in order to save a little time …


Walt disney pictures

“We had to change the whole filming methodology, then this delay pushed us until hurricane season. We were hit by a hurricane, we lost a lot of sets. So that created a second hiatus, that is. is why the third film only had 10 weeks of editing to be able to meet the deadlines compared to the release date. Thus, all the post-production of the third film took 10 weeks. ” he explains.

Staggered post-production of Pirates of the Caribbean 3? Out of the question !

The pressure was terrible. Consider advising Disney that production may be out of schedule? “It wasn’t even an option” loose Verbinski, who adds that the deadline for the release date “was what mattered most” at the studio.

The journalist then informed him of a rumor that was circulating at the time, according to which the filmmaker would have lost weight considerably during the post-production of these two films due to the stress generated. Response from the interested party: “Oh no, it’s quite the opposite, I took 13 kg. You literally don’t sleep. I still remember Dick Cook [NDR : à l’époque, président de la division Walt Disney Studios de la Walt Disney Company et des filiales associées jusqu’en septembre 2009] who kept asking us: ‘are we going to meet the deadlines? Are we going to meet the deadline? “There was everything to do: the mixing, the color grading, the visual effects, the editing … The usual things. But you find yourself on a post-production schedule. impossible, exhausted, because you approved of the visuals and spent nights cutting and editing, while you still shoot. […] We were in survival mode “.

Still, after this painful experience which added some white hair to him, Gore Verbinski was not unhappy to hand over the baton for the next episode, Pirates of the Caribbean: the Fountain of Youth. Time to take a big break, and bring out of the closet an old project that dated from before the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. The story of an anthropomorphic chameleon named Rango.

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