JOHNNY Depp will return to Pirates of the Caribbean as Captain Jack Sparrow, five years after the last film.
Depp, who has played the drunken buccaneer in all five previous films, is scheduled for a UK test shoot in February, according to a new call sheet from the production.
Insiders said the working title of the new film, made by Disney, was A Day At The Sea.
A source said: “Johnny will return as Captain Jack Sparrow and filming will begin in early February at a top secret location in the UK.
“Everything is in the early stages and there is still no director attached to the project, which is called A Day At The Sea.
“Johnny is scheduled to do some test shooting in early February before production begins in full swing.
“A call sheet has been distributed among those who know about it.
“Bruce Hendricks, who worked on the first three films, is named executive producer on the new project.
“All other details are being kept under wraps. The entire project is shrouded in secrecy, and Disney wants to keep it under wraps as best they can.
Depp, 59, made his debut as Sparrow in The Curse Of The Black Pearl in 2003.
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The first five films have grossed over £3.4 billion worldwide and are said to have earned Depp over £200 million.
His future in the franchise was called into question after he lost his libel trial against The Sun in November 2020 after being labeled a “wife beater” in an article about him and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Depp, who split from Amber Heard, 36, in 2016 after a year of marriage, continued to sue her for defamation in the United States and won in June.
During that trial, Heard’s legal team asked Depp if he would ever return, asking, “If Disney came to you with $300 million and a million alpacas, nothing in the world would make you go back and work with Disney on Pirates of the World”. Caribbean movie?”
Depp replied: “That’s true.”
Women’s charities said they were concerned to hear that Depp had been re-signed for the role.
Women’s Aid said: “When someone is accused or found guilty of domestic abuse, it is important that all employers take it seriously, including employers in film and TV.
“When domestic abuse is swept under the rug and quickly forgotten, it sends a dangerous message that it’s not that bad.
“Domestic abuse could not be more serious, with three women killed every fortnight by a current or former partner in the UK.”
Fans of the films and Depp have launched a petition to get him back on board as the morally deprived marauder – with over 800,000 people signing it in an attempt to lobby bosses to sign him.
Last week Margot Robbie revealed that a new female-led Pirates project had been axed.
The production was believed to have been set up to fill the gap after Depp distanced himself from the franchise.
Robbie, 32, told Variety: ‘We had an idea and we’ve been developing it for a while, ages ago, to have more of a female-led story — not totally female-led — but just a different kind of story, which we thought was going to be really cool.
“But I guess they don’t want to.”