Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

 

Theatrical poster
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Written by Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Based on Characters by
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Stuart Beattie
Jay Wolpert
Starring Johnny Depp
Orlando Bloom
Keira Knightley
Stellan Skarsgård
Bill Nighy
Chow Yun-fat
Geoffrey Rush
Jack Davenport
Kevin McNally
Jonathan Pryce
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Dariusz Wolski
Editing by Stephen E. Rivkin
Craig Wood
Studio Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) May 25, 2007 (2007-05-25)
Running time 169 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $300 million[1]
Gross revenue $960,996,492[1]

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is a 2007 adventure fantasy film, the third film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The plot follows Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and the crew of the Black Pearl rescuing Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), from Davy Jones’s Locker, and then preparing to fight the East India Trading Company, led by Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who plan to extinguish piracy. Gore Verbinski directed the film, as he did with the previous two. It was shot in two shoots during 2005 and 2006, the former simultaneously with the preceding film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

The film was released in English-speaking countries on May 25, 2007 after Disney decided to move the release date a day earlier than originally planned. Critical reviews were mixed, but At World’s End was a box office hit, becoming the most successful film of 2007, grossing approximately $960 million worldwide, and making it the second most successful in the series, behind Dead Man’s Chest. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Makeup and the Academy Award for Visual Effects, which it lost to The Golden Compass and La Vie en Rose, respectively. It remains the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of $300 million. A fourth installment, On Stranger Tides, is set for release in theaters on May 20, 2011.

Plot

To control the oceans, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) executes anyone associated with piracy. Beckett, who possesses Davy Jones’ (Bill Nighy) heart, orders Jones to destroy all pirate ships. Condemned prisoners sing “Hoist the Colours” to compel the nine pirate lords comprising the Brethren Court to convene at Shipwreck Cove. However, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), pirate lord of the Caribbean, never appointed a successor. Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) leads Will (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), and the crew of Black Pearl to rescue Jack. Sao Feng (Chow Yun-fat), pirate lord of the South China Sea, possesses a map to Davy Jones’s Locker, where Jack is imprisoned. Will bargains with Feng for the Pearl in exchange for Sparrow, so Will can rescue his father from The Flying Dutchman.

The crew journeys into the Locker and retrieves Sparrow. As the Pearl seeks an escape route, dead souls float past, including Elizabeth’s father Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce), who was murdered by Beckett. Tia Dalma reveals that Davy Jones was appointed by Calypso, Goddess of the Sea and his lover, to ferry the dead to the next world. In return, Jones was allowed to step upon land for one day every ten years to be with his love; when she failed to meet him, he abandoned his duty and transformed into a monster.

After returning to the living world, the Pearl is ambushed by Sao Feng’s flagship called the Empress. Sao Feng, then reveals his agreement with Will. Feng betrays Will, handing over the crew to Beckett in exchange for the Pearl. Beckett takes Sparrow aboard his vessel, the Endeavour, although Jack refuses to divulge where the Brethren Court will convene. Instead, Jack offers to lure the Court out in exchange for Beckett protecting him from Jones. Feng bargains with Barbossa to release the Pearl in exchange for Elizabeth, who he believes is Calypso trapped in human form. When Feng takes Elizabeth aboard to the Empress, the Black Pearl attacks the Endeavour, allowing Jack to escape. Meanwhile on the Empress, Feng tells Elizabeth that the first Brethren Court trapped Calypso in human form so men could rule the seas. When Davy Jones attacks the Empress, the mortally wounded Feng appoints Elizabeth as his successor. She and the crew are imprisoned in The Flying Dutchman‘s brig. Bootstrap Bill reveals to Elizabeth that the person who stabs Davy Jones’ heart becomes the next captain of the Flying Dutchman. Admiral James Norrington (Jack Davenport) frees Elizabeth and her crew. They escape to their ship, but Norrington is killed by a crazed Bootstrap Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård).

Will leaves a trail of corpses for Beckett’s ship to follow. Jack catches Will and they discuss Davy Jones’ heart. Jack suggests he stab the heart, to solve Will’s conflicting obligations (freeing his father and Elizabeth), then tosses Will overboard after giving him his compass so Beckett can find Shipwreck Cove. Will is rescued by Beckett, and Davy Jones reveals that he masterminded Calypso’s imprisonment. At Shipwreck Cove, The pirate lords such as Barbossa, Ammand, Capitaine Chevalle, Sri Sumbhajee, Ching, Jocard, and Villanueva present their nine “pieces of eight”, but disagree over freeing Calypso. Barbossa calls upon Captain Teague (Keith Richards), Jack’s father and Keeper of the Pirate’s Code, to confirm that only a Pirate King can declare war. Elizabeth is elected King after Sparrow’s vote for her breaks a stalemate. She orders the pirates to war. During a parley with Beckett and Jones, Elizabeth swaps Sparrow for Will after realizing Jack and Will plan to have Jack stab the heart; swapping Jack places him on the Dutchman with the heart. Jack hoped for this to happen because if Jack was placed aboard the Dutchman, he could stab Jones’ heart. Barbossa steals Jack’s “piece of eight” and takes Elizabeth and Will back aboard the Pearl.

Barbossa collects Elizabeth’s “piece of eight” and uses the rest to free Calypso, who was bound as Tia Dalma. Will discloses that Davy Jones betrayed her to the Brethren Court. Her fury unleashes a maelstrom, in which the Dutchman and the Pearl battle. Sparrow escapes the Dutchman‘s brig and steals the Dead Man’s Chest and then battles Davy Jones on the Dutchman’s masts. Will proposes to Elizabeth and Captain Barbossa marries them in the midst of battle. Will boards the Dutchman and defeats Jones’ first mate, Maccus with help from Jack the monkey which allows him to retrieve the chest. Elizabeth boards the Dutchman to save Will and Sparrow. Elizabeth battles Jones but is knocked down. When Will tries to save Elizabeth, he is mortally wounded by Jones. Sparrow places his sword in Will’s hand and helps Will stab Jones’s heart before he dies. Jack and Elizabeth escape The Flying Dutchman as the crew place Will’s heart in the Dead Man’s Chest; the ship disappears into the whirlpool. When the Endeavour moves to attack the Pearl, the Dutchman resurfaces with Will as the captain and the crew now human. When the Pearl and the Dutchman move towards the Endeavour, Beckett realizes that he no longer controls the Dutchman and becomes too nervous too respond to his men. When the Pearl and the Dutchman attack the Endeavour, Beckett’s first mate, Lieutenant Theodore Groves orders the marines to abandon ship. The Endeavour is destroyed and Beckett is killed. This causes the massive armada to retreat without a fight. Will is bound to sail the sea as The Flying Dutchman‘s captain. Elizabeth bids Jack, Barbossa, and the crew farewell before Will and Elizabeth have one day together and consummate their marriage. He departs after giving Elizabeth the Dead Man’s Chest. Barbossa commandeers the Pearl, stranding Jack and Gibbs in Tortuga. Barbossa looks at the charts of the map for the Fountain of Youth with the crew, only to discover Jack cut out the middle. Jack sails from Tortuga in a small boat to find the Fountain of Youth.

Ten years later, Elizabeth and her son[2] watch from a seacliff as The Flying Dutchman appears with Will Turner aboard.

Cast

  • Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: Sparrow and the Black Pearl have been dragged to Davy Jones’ Locker by the Kraken and is trapped there until his former crew mounts a rescue party.
  • Orlando Bloom as William “Will” Turner Jr.: A blacksmith turned pirate, the son of “Bootstrap Bill” Turner and the fiancé of Elizabeth Swann.
  • Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann: Governor Swann’s daughter and Will Turner’s fiancée. Having tricked Jack Sparrow into being swallowed by the Kraken to save herself and the Black Pearl crew, she subsequently goes to his rescue.
  • Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa: Once first mate of the Black Pearl under Jack’s command before leading a mutiny, Barbossa has been resurrected by Tia Dalma to captain the rescue of Jack Sparrow. He was also needed for his “piece of eight” to free Calypso. Rush said that in the film, Barbossa becomes more of a cunning politician.[3] Depp said he was pleased he got more screentime with Rush than in the first film: “We’re like a couple of old ladies fighting over their knitting needles”.[4]
  • Bill Nighy provides motion capture and voice acting for Davy Jones: Ghostly ruler of the ocean realm, captain of The Flying Dutchman. With his heart captured by James Norrington, he is now enslaved to Cutler Beckett who commanded him to kill the Kraken, and serves the East India Trading Company.
  • Tom Hollander as Cutler Beckett: Chairman of the East India Trading Co. and now in possession of Davy Jones’ heart, Beckett attempts to control the world’s oceans for the sake of business – and with it, the end of piracy.
  • Jack Davenport as James Norrington: Promoted to the rank of admiral, he has allied himself with Beckett and the Company, although still cares for Elizabeth, his former fiancée.
  • Chow Yun-fat as Captain Sao Feng: Pirate Lord of the South China Sea, he captains the Chinese ship The Empress and has a history with Sparrow. He is reluctant to aid in his rescue from Davy Jones’ Locker. “Sao Feng” (嘯風) means “Howling Wind” in Chinese. Chow was confirmed to be playing Feng in July 2005 while production of the second film was on hiatus.[5] Chow relished playing the role, even helping out crew members with props.[6]
  • Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma/Calypso: An obeah witch who travels with the Black Pearl crew to rescue Jack, she also raised Hector Barbossa from the dead at the conclusion of Dead Man’s Chest and has a mysterious past connection to Davy Jones.
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Bootstrap Bill Turner: Will’s father, cursed to serve an eternity aboard Davy Jones’ ship The Flying Dutchman. As he slowly loses his humanity to the sea, he becomes mentally confused, barely recognizing his own son.
  • Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs: Jack’s loyal and superstitious first mate.
  • Keith Richards as Captain Teague: Keeper of the Pirata Codex for the Brethren Court and Jack Sparrow’s father. Richards, who partially inspired Johnny Depp‘s portrayal of Sparrow,[7][8] was meant to appear in Dead Man’s Chest, but there was no room for him in the story,[9][10] as well as him being tied up with a Rolling Stones tour.[8] He almost missed filming a scene in At World’s End following injuries sustained by falling out of a palm tree.[9] In June 2006, Verbinski finally managed to make room in Richards’ schedule to shoot that September.[11]
  • Jonathan Pryce as Weatherby Swann: Governor of Port Royal and father to Elizabeth Swann, he is now trapped in Beckett’s service.
  • Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook as Pintel and Ragetti: A mischievous and eccentric duo, part of Jack’s crew.
  • David Bailie as Cotton, Jack’s loyal mute crewman who returns again to join the quest to bring back Sparrow.
  • Martin Klebba as Marty, Jack’s dwarf crewman who also joins the quest to bring back Sparrow.
  • Christopher S. Capp voices Cotton’s parrot, a blue and yellow macaw that Cotton has trained to speak for him.
  • “Boo-Boo” and “Mercedes” act as Jack the Monkey, Hector Barbossa’s pet Capuchin monkey.[12] The monkey portrayers of Jack were hard to work with due to short attention span and had to be struck by squirt guns – which caused Geoffrey Rush to also be struck a few times.[12] Boo-Boo is a twelve-year-old male and Mercedes a ten-year-old female.[12]

Production

“I felt it important that the third film was the end of an era — like in a postmodern western where the railroad comes and the gunfighter is extinct. It seemed that we had an opportunity to take a look at a world where the legitimate has become corrupt and there is no place for honest thieves in that society, so you have darker issues and a little melancholy. The myths are dying. That seemed a great theme with which to complete the trilogy.”

Following Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl‘s success in 2003, the cast and crew signed on for two sequels to be shot back-to-back.[14] For the third film, director Gore Verbinski wanted to return the tone to that of a character piece after using the second film to keep the plot moving.[6] Inspired by the real-life confederation of pirates, Elliott and Rossio looked at historical figures and created fictional characters from them to expand the scope beyond the main cast.[15] Finally embellishing their mythology, Calypso was introduced, going full circle to Barbossa’s mention of “heathen gods” that created the curse in the first film.[16]

Parts of the third film were shot during location filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, a long shoot which finished on March 1, 2006.[17] During August 2005, the Singapore sequence was shot. The set was built on Stage 12 of the Universal backlot, and comprised 40 structures within an 80 by 130-foot (24 by 40-m) tank that was 3½ feet (1 m) deep. As 18th century Singapore is not a well-documented era, the filmmakers chose to use an Expressionist style based on Chinese and Malaysian cities of the same period. The design of the city was also intended by Verbinski to parody spa culture, with fungi growing throughout the set. Continuing this natural feel, the floorboards of Sao Feng’s bathhouse had to be cut by hand, and real humidity was created by the combination of gallons of water and the lighting equipment on the set.[18]

Filming resumed on August 3, 2006 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah[19] and continued until early 2007 for 70 days off the California coast, as all the shooting required in the Caribbean had been conducted in 2005.[20] Davy Jones’ Locker was shot at Utah, and it was shot in a monochromatic way to represent its different feeling from the usual colorful environment of a pirate.[21] The climactic battle was shot in a former air hangar at Palmdale, California,[22] where the cast had to wear wetsuits underneath their costumes on angle-tipped ships. The water-drenched set was kept in freezing temperatures, to make sure bacteria did not come inside and infect the crew.[23] A second unit shot at Niagara Falls.[24] Industrial Light & Magic did 750 effects shots, while Digital Domain also took on 300. They spent just five months finishing the special effects. The film posed numerous challenges in creating water-based effects.[25]

Filming finished on December 12, 2006 in Molokai,[26] and the first assembly cut was three hours.[27] Twenty minutes were removed, not including end credits, though producer Jerry Bruckheimer maintained that the long running time was needed to make the final battle work in terms of build-up.[28] Hans Zimmer composed the score as he did for the previous film, composing eight new motifs including a new love theme for the At World’s End soundtrack.[26] He scored scenes as the editors began work, so as to influence their choice of cutting to the music. Gore Verbinski helped on the score. He played the guitar in the parley scene between Barbossa, Sparrow, Elizabeth and Will, Davy Jones, and Cutler Beckett.[29] He also co-wrote the song “Hoist the Colours” with Zimmer.[30]

Release

Keith Richards who plays Jack’s father Captain Teague at the premiere.

The world premiere of At World’s End was held on May 19, 2007, at Disneyland, home of the ride that inspired the film and where the first two films in the trilogy debuted. Disneyland offered the general public a chance to attend the premiere through the sale of tickets, priced at $1,500 per ticket, with proceeds going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation charity.[31] Just a few weeks before the film’s release, Walt Disney Pictures decided to move the United States opening of At World’s End from screenings Friday, May 25, 2007 to Thursday at 8 PM, May 24, 2007.[32] The film opened in 4,362 theaters domestically, beating Spider-Man 3s theater opening record by 110 (this record was surpassed by The Dark Knight the following year).[33][34]

Marketing

After a muted publicity campaign, the trailer finally debuted at ShoWest 2007.[35] It was shown on March 18, 2007 at a special screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl named “Pirates Ultimate Fan Event”, and was then shown on March 19 during Dancing with the Stars, before it debuted online.[36] Action figures by NECA were released in late April.[37] Board games such as a Collector’s Edition Chess Set, a Monopoly Game, and a Pirates Dice Game (Liar’s dice) were also released. Master Replicas have made sculptures of characters and replicas of jewellery and the Dead Man’s Chest.[38] A video game with the same title as the film was released on May 22, 2007 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP, PlayStation 2, PC, and Nintendo DS formats.[39] The soundtrack and its remix were also released on May 22.

Censorship

At least one nation’s official censors have ordered scenes cut from the film. According to Xinhua, the state news agency of the People’s Republic of China, ten minutes of footage containing Chow Yun-fat‘s portrayal of Singaporean pirate Sao Feng have been trimmed from versions of the film which may be shown in China. Chow is onscreen for twenty minutes in the uncensored theatrical release of the film. No official reason for the censorship was given, but unofficial sources within China have indicated that the character gave a negative and stereotypical portrayal of the Chinese people.[40]

Reception

As with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End received mixed reviews. The most common criticism of the film from reviewers was that the plot was too convoluted for them to follow. In review aggregate websites, At World’s End has a “rotten” rating of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes[41] and 50% at Metacritic.[42] Favorable reviewer Alex Billington noted, “This is just how the film industry works nowadays; critics give bad opinions, the public usually has a differing opinion, and all is well in the world of Hollywood since the studios made their millions anyway.”[43] The film was voted “Best Movie” and “Best Threequel” at the People’s Choice Awards. Depp and Knightley also won awards for their performances.[44]

Drew McWeeny was an exception, praising its complexity as giving it repeat-viewing value, and its conclusion as “perhaps the most canny move it makes.”[45] Todd Gilchrist found the story too similar to other cinematic trilogies such as Star Wars but praised the production values.[46] Brian Lowry felt that “unlike last year’s bloated sequel, it at least possesses some semblance of a destination, making it slightly more coherent – if no less numbing during the protracted finale.”[47] Total Film praised the performances but complained that the twists and exposition made it hard to care for the characters.[48] Edward Douglas liked the film but had issues with its pacing,[49] while Blake Wright criticized the Davy Jones’ Locker and Calypso segments.[50] James Berardinelli found it the weakest of the trilogy as “the last hour offers adventure as rousing as anything provided in either of the previous installments… which doesn’t account for the other 108 minutes of this gorged, self-indulgent, and uneven production.”[51] Peter Travers praised Richards and Rush but felt “there can indeed be too much of a good thing,” regarding Depp’s character.[52] Travers later declared the movie to be one of the worst films of the year.[53] Colm Andrew of the Manx Independent said the film was overall a disappointment and that “the final showdown … is a non-event and the repetitive swordplay and inane plot contrivances simply become boring by the end”.[54]

Some confusion among fans was regarding the final scene, since there has been a major contradiction in the storyline when Will returns to Elizabeth ten years later: in the DVD commentary, the screenwriters state that because Elizabeth remained faithful to Will for the interim 10 years, and he fulfilled his duty to ferry souls to the next world, he is freed from the Flying Dutchman,[55] but the “Pirates Secrets Revealed” leaflet insert in the DVD release and dialogue in the film make it specifically clear that Will (or any captain of the Flying Dutchman for that matter) is bound forever to his duties and may only step on land once every ten years. However the validity of this leaflet is debatable, and cut scenes removed dialogue that would have explained Will’s return in more detail.

Chow Yun-fat‘s character stirred a great deal of controversy with the Chinese press. Perry Lam, of Hong Kong cultural magazine, Muse, found the striking resemblance between Chow’s character and Fu Manchu offensive: “Now Fu Manchu has returned after an absence of 27 years in the Hollywood cinema; except that, in a nod to political correctness and marketing realities, he is no longer called Fu Manchu.”[56]

The film had two nominations for the 80th Academy Awards in the Visual Effects and Makeup categories.[57] It lost to The Golden Compass and La Vie en Rose, respectively.

Box office

On its first weekend Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End earned $114,732,820, which ranks 10th among the highest-grossing opening weekends at the box office in the U.S.A. and Canada, and when adding in Memorial Day‘s earnings it grossed $139,802,190 breaking the Memorial Day 4-day weekend record previously held by X-Men: The Last Stand ($122,861,157). When including Thursday night previews, as well, its 5-day total was $153,042,234.[58]

Overseas during its opening weekend, it grossed an estimated $216 million, which stands as the third highest opening weekend behind Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (estimated $236 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($230,544,376). Added to its earnings in the U.S.A. and Canada, its worldwide opening 3-day weekend gross (including weekday previews) is $344.0 million, making it the third-largest worldwide opening of all time.[58] By June 13, 2007 -its 20th day of release-, the film had grossed $500 million overseas, breaking Spider-Man 3‘s record for reaching that amount the fastest.[59] Eventually, this record was overtaken by Avatar which reached that amount in 13 days.[60] By the end of its run, the film made $309,420,425 in the U.S.A. and Canada – ranking fourth among 2007 releases behind Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third and Transformers – and $651,576,067 overseas for a worldwide total of $960,996,492. It was by far the highest-grossing film of 2007 worldwide and is currently the 9th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide.[58][61][62]

Compared to its predecessor, it grossed far less at the box office of the U.S.A. and Canada ($309.4 million against Pirates 2‘s $423.3 million) but overseas -having earned $651.6 million- it out-grossed Pirates 2 by a mere $8.7 million. Still, its worldwide earnings are more than $100 million below Dead Man’s Chest’s total, but Pirates 3 remain nevertheless one of the highest-grossing films on the all-time worldwide chart.[63]

Home media

The one-disc and two-disc versions of the Region 2 DVD were released in the UK on November 19, 2007, on both standard DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats.[64] The film was released on DVD in Australia on November 21, 2007, and released on December 4, 2007 in the United States and Canada. The 2-Disc Limited Edition DVD was in continuous circulation until it stopped on September 30, 2008. In contrast, the Blu-ray Disc release, containing all of the features from the 2-Disc DVD version (including some exclusive Blu-ray features, but excluding the writer’s commentary track) is still widely available. The initial Blu-ray Disc release was misprinted on the back of the box as 1080i, although Disney confirmed it to be 1080p. Disney has decided not to recall the misprinted units, but will fix the error on subsequent printings.[65] DVD sales brought in $296,043,871 in revenue marking the best-selling DVD of 2007, although it ranks second in terms of units sold (14,496,242) behind Transformers.[66]

Sequel

Gore Verbinski originally announced that At World’s End would be the final film in the franchise, completing the hugely successful trilogy. However on September 11, 2010 it was confirmed that Johnny Depp had been signed to a sequel with Bruckheimer as producer and Rob Marshall as director. On Stranger Tides is due for release on May 20, 2011.

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