Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

When Disney recently confirmed the development of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cinematical’s Erik “Eagle Eye” Davis realized that there was also a pirate novel by the same name. (On Stranger Tides, that is.) Now we’ve learned that Disney had indeed optioned the novel (years ago) and that it forms, at least in some small part, a basis for the movie. Writer Terry Rossio and novel author Tim Powers have both spoken up about the film and how it relates to the novel.

Speaking to the LA Times, Powers says that Disney bought rights to the book two and a half years ago, and requested that he stay quiet about the sale. At the time, the fact that it was potentially raw material for a new Pirates movie wasn’t specified. (Wonder how much he got for the option? Probably not nearly as much as he would if that fact was made explicit…though Powers’ entertainment lawyer was hopefully good enough to add X and Y.) Certainly, when the third Pirates movie arrived and mentioned the Fountain of Youth, the subject of Powers’ novel, it became obvious. Powers explains:

I was still — as far as I understood — not free to talk about it… Then about a week ago my agent wrote and said, ‘You’re now able to say that in fact Disney did option the book.’ That happened a while ago, it’ll be three years in April…I think the clear thing they would use is the trip to the Fountain of Youth… My main character doesn’t overlap with Jack Sparrow at all [in personality or circumstance]; they’re totally different characters. I suppose they might overlap the Geoffrey Rush character Barbossa and Blackbeard. The only thing I feel certain they will hold on to is the Fountain of Youth since they telegraphed that at the end of the last movie.

But now Empire has talked to Terry Rossio, who pretty plainly explains things:

We wanted to do a story about Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth, and Tim Powers wrote a book about Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth… it just turns out that to do that story you would need that book. It’s a brilliant and Tim Powers is an amazing writer – and it’s a great title. It allows us to draw material from that universe and his expertise.

But he goes on to say that the film isn’t necessarily based on the book, in part because as Powers says, there’s no Jack Sparrow or equivalent character in his text. But the similarities are enough that optioning the novel was a necessity. Here’s the plot of the novel:

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.

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