Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, confirmed a June start for the fourth installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and reaffirmed that Johnny Depp will definitely star, despite rumors last year to the contrary. Depp had suggested that his enthusiasm for the film had waned after Walt Disney Studios chair Dick Cook stepped down, but Bruckheimer has his star confirmed for the movie with director Rob Marshall.
"Yeah, everything's fine," Bruckheimer said in a group interview on Saturday in Pasadena, Calif., where he was promoting his new TV show Miami Medical. "We're moving forward. We hope to start in June, and Rob Marshall's set. We're moving forward."
That still leaves a few months to decide whether other Pirates regulars will return: Bruckheimer has not decided whether the previous trilogy's co-stars—Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush—will be involved.
"No deals have been made yet, other than Johnny's," Bruckheimer continued. "We'll make those decisions later and let you know."
Inspired by the Tim Powers novel On Stranger Tides, the fourth Pirates movie will pick up where the last one, At World's End, left off. "I think it kind of takes off from the end of 3, where he's got that map to the fountain of youth," Bruckheimer said. "That's where the story starts. That was the inspiration."
World's End climaxed with a sword fight on top of a sinking ship in a whirlpool. Now it's up to Rob Marshall to top that. "Rob Marshall is an ex-choreographer, so I'm sure he'll find some really interesting things to play with," Bruckheimer said. "Hopefully there will always be signature sequences."
The producer has two major films opening this summer: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Based on the latest cuts, Bruckheimer expects both films to come in under two hours. That may sound like the average film, but Persia at least had the potential to balloon to an epic length.
"It is epic, but it's under two hours," Bruckheimer said. He added, "Prince of Persia is just about done. We've got about maybe 15 visual-effects shots and some music that we're still doing, but it's very close. Sorcerer's isn't completely edited yet. We're still working."
Prince of Persia is based on the video game of the same name, a desert adventure full of swashbuckling action. What separates it from the Pirates films is its emphasis on romance and drama.
"It's a very romantic story," Bruckheimer said. "It's about a young prince who falls in love with his princess through the course of the film. It's a drama but has a lot of humor in it."
Sorcerer's Apprentice is based on the Fantasia short, with Jay Baruchel in the Mickey Mouse role. Nicolas Cage plays the sorcerer and Jon Turteltaub directs, the same duo who brought us the National Treasure films.
"It's got the same kind of tone, because Jon has a wonderful comedic touch," Bruckheimer said of their third collaboration. "It's got romance in it, and it's got a lot of adventure. It's very similar to National Treasure in tone."
Bruckheimer sees the potential of both Prince and Sorcerer's to begin new franchises. "We see it in every movie if it's a hit," he said. "If it's a hit, the studio says, 'Make another one.'"
That said, Bruckheimer confirmed that both films tell complete stories. They didn't set up cliffhangers to anticipate potential sequels. "No, these stories are closed-ended, both of them."
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is out May 28. The Sorcerer's Apprentice opens July 16. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is due in 2011.