Why For All Mankind Went Out Of Its Way To License Pirates Of The Caribbean's Theme

Given that Disney+ is one of its chief competitors, Apple TV+ certainly isn't the first streaming platform where you'd expect to hear music from a Disney theme park ride. But for viewers of "For All Mankind" season 3, that's exactly what they got when they tuned in to the fourth episode, "Happy Valley." In the midst of an alternate-history mission to Mars, NASA gains an unexpected edge in the space race by breaking out the solar sails on its Sojourner 1 vessel. Its rivals then get an earful of the sea shanty "Pirates Overture" from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

Apparently, this song started out as a bit of temp music, meaning it was intended as a stopgap until another workable song was found. In an interview with The Wrap, "For All Mankind" executive producers Ben Nedivi and Matt Wolpert explained that the idea of linking a pirate tune with the deployment of the solar sails originated in the show's writers' room. They referenced other sea shanties, but none had the same effect as Disney's instantly recognizable "Pirates Overture" by George Bruns. Nedivi said:

"['Pirates Overture'] was actually sort of a placeholder. It was sort of like: Yeah, OK, we're doing that. We're not going to actually use that. We can't use that! But then what happened is the more we saw it cut together, the more we saw the flair, then we're like, 'Nothing works like that. Nothing captures the moment like that.' And we fought for it."

'There is actually another Disney connection'

Nedivi and Wolpert pleaded ignorance as to the specifics of how Apple managed to license "Pirates Overture," but the company has deep pockets, and Wolpert said, "They've always been very supportive with the music. And when we said, 'This is really what we want it to be,' then they were very supportive."

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride first opened in the original Disneyland in 1967, and since then, it has spread to four more Disney parks around the world, not to mention five feature films. However, the alternate history of "For All Mankind" has played out in such a way that the world looks different in the 1990s when season 3 is set. This opens up the question of whether Disney history evolved differently, too. To that, Wolpert said:

"We haven't thought that far down the road about the 'Disney' of it all in terms of the theme parks, but there is actually another Disney connection to the show. In an early episode of the series, they play a clip of Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi scientist who immigrated to America and worked on the embryonic space program as part of Operation Paperclip. The clip, as it turns out, was produced by Disney, as von Braun appeared on a number of Disney television programs, in part to stoke America's interest in space travel."

It's strange to think von Braun, the "father of space travel," was an ex-Nazi involved with Disney, but Wolpert said Walt Disney "was a big part of sort of promoting the idea of traveling to Mars and living in space and selling von Braun's ideas to the public. So [the song choice] did feel like kind of a natural fit."

"For All Mankind" is streaming now on Apple TV+.