JOHNNY Depp will return to the Pirates Of The Caribbean as Captain Jack Sparrow – five years on from the last film.
Insiders said the working title of the new film, being made by Disney, was A Day At The Sea.
A source said: “Johnny is set to return as Captain Jack Sparrow and is scheduled to start filming at the beginning of 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 being called A Day At The Sea.
“Johnny is expected to do a test shoot in early February before the production gets fully underway.
“A call sheet has been distributed among those in the know.
“Bruce Hendricks, who worked on the first three films, is named as the Executive Producer on the new project.
“All the other details are being kept under lock and key. The whole project is shrouded in secrecy and Disney want to keep everything under wraps as best they can.”
Depp, 59, made his debut as Sparrow in The Curse Of The Black Pearl back in 2003.
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The first five films grossed over £3.4billion worldwide and were reported to have made Depp over £200million.
His future on the franchise was thrown into doubt after he lost his libel trial against The Sun in November 2020 after he was labelled 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, went on to sue her for defamation in the US 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 $300million dollars and a million alpacas, nothing on this earth would get you to go back and work with Disney on a Pirates Of The Caribbean film?”
Depp replied: “That is true”.
Women’s charities said they were concerned to hear Depp had been signed up for the role once more.
Women’s Aid said: “When someone is accused of or found guilty of domestic abuse, it is important that all employers take this seriously, and that includes employers in film and TV.
“When domestic abuse is swept under the carpet and quickly forgotten about, it sends a dangerous message that it is not that serious.
“Domestic abuse could not be more serious, with three women every fortnight being killed by a current or former partner in the UK.”
Fans of the films and Depp started a petition to get him back on board as the morally devoid marauder – with over 800,000 people signing it in a bid to pressure bosses to sign him up.
Last week Margot Robbie revealed a new female-led Pirates project had been axed.
The production was believed to have been created to bridge the gap after Depp was distanced from the franchise.
Robbie, 32, told Variety: “We had an idea and we were developing it for a while, ages ago, to have more of a female-led – not totally female-led – but just a different kind of story, which we thought would’ve been really cool.
“But I guess they don’t want to do it.”