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Saturday
Sep122009

'Pirates 4' Gets a New Title, Looks Like an Adaptation

Disney is getting huge mileage out of its D23 Expo, which is making more headlines than the Toronto Film Festival this week for some of its new marketing swag, the announcement that it will partner with Guillermo del Toro on a new production house, and now, the first full details about Pirates of the Caribbean 4. As you can see, it already has a title - On Stranger Tides - which I actually really dig, and we know that Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush will be back aboard the Black Pearl.

The title hints at what Disney has maintained for quite a while, that a fourth film would be a little smaller and a little less down the middle than a Disney summer movie would indicate. Of course, the third one was pretty bizarre, as well, but there was no chance that would fail, so it was loaded with all kinds of influences you wouldn't keep if it was the first movie in the series.

There is another point of interest here about the title: This isn't a new story. In fact, there's a 1987 novel called On Stranger Tides written by Tim Powers. Though not about Jack Sparrow, it's easy to see him replacing the character Jack Shandy from the book and launching into Powers' plot from there. It's actually a pretty good way to do it; On Stranger Tides won a couple of awards in the fantasy realm two decades ago, and with the fresh page in the franchise, falling back on a proven story is not a bad option at all.

Here's the plot of the book:

"Puppeteer John Chandagnac, bound for Jamaica to recover stolen money from his uncle, becomes Jack Shandy after pirates attack his ship and force him to join their crew. Shandy's struggle to accept his new life grounds the story for readers, even as Blackbeard and vodun magicians whisk everyone away to dreamlike lands where the Fountain of Youth itself awaits. The chaotic sea battles sing, though at times key events happen so quickly that they get lost in the shuffle as Jack tries to comprehend where he's going and what's at stake. This dark fantasy tale will appeal not just to pirate fans but also to anyone who appreciates Powers's talent for blending the most unlikely elements into a brilliantly cohesive whole."

Jack's back in summer 2011, and if Disney does what it has indicated and strips down this franchise to its essential parts or part (Depp), then there's no reason at all to believe this won't be worth watching, and the same can't be said for the previous sequels.

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