Johnny Depp Returns in ‘Pirates’ Sequel Opposite Penelope Cruz

Johnny Depp heads for the fountain of youth with Penelope Cruz as his travel companion in the 3-D “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival today.

The action-adventure picture is the fourth in a franchise that has grossed $2.69 billion at the box office worldwide, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

At the movie’s Cannes press conference, Depp, 47, -- in aviator glasses and a striped white shirt -- was asked about the likelihood of another sequel, given the franchise’s profitability so far.

“It’s not just about ker-ching, ker-ching,” he replied. “If a lot of money is spent, whoever spent that money expects a return, but that’s not the reason we go in.

“As long as people want it, I’m there,” he said.

In the film, Depp’s character Captain Jack Sparrow -- with gold teeth and long, beaded hair -- boards the ship of the nasty pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who’s desperate to beat everyone to the fountain of youth. Also on the vessel is feisty Angelica (Cruz), the franchise’s first female pirate.

Cruz, in a snug dark-blue dress at the news conference, said she learned fights and choreographies for a couple of months from “Pirates” teams before the shoot, and was handled with care because of her pregnancy at the time. “They protected me every single step of the way,” she said.

Returning to the cast was Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, in a cameo as the haggard Captain Teague.

“He was amazing to share a trailer with,” said Depp. “I may write a book about that myself one day.”

Lethal Mermaids

Another novelty in the movie are the beautiful, lethal mermaids who lure sailors to their doom. A team of 22 synchronized swimmers, some of them participants in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, helped make those scenes.

The series started in 2003 with “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which raked in $653.3 million at the box office.

The latest release in the franchise is directed by Rob Marshall, who last made “Nine” (2009) -- a homage to Italian cinema starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Cruz, and Marion Cotillard. In 2002, Marshall made the six-time Oscar winner “Chicago.”

Shooting of the new “Pirates” took place in Hawaii, off the coast of Long Beach, California, in the Caribbean and in London’s Pinewood Studios.

Depp’s co-star in the film, Geoffrey Rush, was recently nominated for an Oscar for his role as the stuttering George VI’s therapist in “The King’s Speech.”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (a Walt Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer production) is released in the U.K. on May 18 and in the U.S. on May 20.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in Cannes at farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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