PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES to have a smaller treasure chest

James Wallace

by: James Wallace
May 4th, 2010

Looks like ON STRANGER TIDES may be on smaller tides, as the L.A. Times is reporting that Disney has enforced budget restraints on the fourth adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow. While it isn't small potatoes - somewhere to the tune of $200 million - it is about $100 million less than the estimated $300 million booty that AT WORLD'S END cost the studio. Coincidentally, the film still holds the record for most expensive film ever made.

To cut corners, the film's production will include fewer effects shots (somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 versus 2,000) and less shooting days (90 to 95 versus 142). The shooting locations themselves will also change, as Hawaii and London give better tax breaks to film productions. They are even keeping Captain Jack more landlocked, as the studio reportedly gave screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio script notes that instructed the pair to set more of the story on land rather than on water, since shooting on the high seas is high in price. And to boot, a few of the film's bigger action sequences have been trimmed here and there to save a few pieces of pirate's gold.

Not known for being a thrifty, small-scale filmmaker himself, producer Jerry Bruckheimer spoke on the challenges and changes that could come along with these budget woes.

"The hard thing is you have to make painful decisions that cut into some very entertaining sequences," Bruckheimer said. "You have to figure out how to keep the movie very entertaining and give the audience more than what they expect and yet be cost-effective about it."

The film's director, Rob Marshall, who is largely known for his musical set pieces with CHICAGO and NINE, is sailing into new waters with ON STRANGER TIDES as the film will be his first grand-scale action film. Bigger budget for Marshall, but smaller for the series as a whole. But the newcomer seems to be up to the challenges that the franchises may present.

"This is by far the biggest budget I've ever worked with," Marshall said. "We're all working hard to keep it as lean as possible...It's a tricky time in the economy. You can't be insane."

Oh, but insane is exactly what filmmaking has become! Quite honestly, I think a lot more films should have mandatory budget cuts inflicted upon them. The over-use of visual effects that come along with bloated costs have seemed to largely and directly influence the final product itself. Let's just say that the top 10 most expensive films ever made aren't exactly sitting at the top of a lot of top 10 greatest films ever made lists.

In short, less budget may force filmmakers to be more creative. And I for one am all for that. What about yourself? Thoughts? Opinions?

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