Johnny Depp Less Enthusiastic About Next ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ After Departure Of Disney Exec

A long time ago, we all dreaded Disney’s decision to turn its “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme park attraction into a movie. Then Johnny Depp came aboard, and he gave us one of the most iconic film characters of the past decade. Since then, its been harder to be cynical of such adaptations.

Apparently we have Disney studio chief Dick Cook to partially thank for how great the “Pirates” franchise — or at least the first film — is. Now that Cook has resigned from the company (Disney denies he was fired), the series could be in jeopardy. Or, at least Depp’s involvement with the films may be.

Depp has a bond with the exiting executive, claiming that it was Cook who convinced the star to sign on to the “Pirates” movies. Depp told the Los Angeles Times last week that Cook was the rare studio exec he could trust, and so he ended up agreeing to play Captain Jack Sparrow without even seeing a script.

Cook proved worthy of that trust during filming. Depp told the newspaper’s Company Town blog, “when things went a little sideways on the first ’Pirates’ movie and others at the studio were less than enthusiastic about my interpretation of the character, Dick was there from the first moment. He trusted me.”

With Cook gone from Disney, Depp admits there’s a “fissure, a crack” in his enthusiasm for the next installment of “Pirates,” which we recently learned is titled “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and is set to open in Summer 2011. Depp isn’t fully signed on for the sequel, as he’s waiting to approve the script. Yet there’s a chance he’ll now view any submitted draft unacceptable as a result of his waning interest.

Depp isn’t the only one disappointed by Cook’s departure from Disney. In her exclusive report of Cook’s exit, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood claims Steven Spielberg is also upset, because he apparently brought DreamWorks into its deal with Disney thanks to Cook, whom the filmmaker “worships.”

Of course, the effect on Depp is more of a concern. Just imagine Disney trying to go forward with the series either without the star or even with a less enthusiastic performance? There’s no way the studio would go back to taking issue with Jack Sparrow’s body language or appearance as portrayed by Depp, but there is the possibility of other disapproving notes brought to Depp by whomever replaces Cook. With that being the case, we might want to hope Depp does walk away and the franchise does close shop.

Do you hope Johnny Depp can regain his enthusiasm for the role? Would you rather the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series call it quits?