Austin Butler has played coy when asked about long-standing rumors connecting him to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but insiders say it’s just a foregone conclusion at this point as he’s in pole position to be anointed as the new Johnny Depp. He’ll make a fortune in the process!

“Disney was looking at two options for bringing back the Pirates movies: handing over the franchise to Margot Robbie and hope the Barbie lightning strikes twice with a one-off female-skewing story, or bringing back Johnny Depp for a sixth go at Jack Sparrow, which would be expensive and risky,” a studio insider exclusively explains to Life & Style. “Considering Johnny’s age and polarizing reputation, making that version would play like a franchise finale, even though Johnny still has his supporters inside the franchise.”

“Austin Butler and his team’s interest in the franchise has come at exactly the right time, and it doesn’t necessarily mean curtains for Margot’s take or even a return appearance by Johnny,” the source adds. “The appeal of somebody like Austin is that he can completely transform into a character, and the potential is there to create something as unforgettable as Johnny’s work on the first film 21 years ago. Plus, he’s proven himself with accents, action and even weird comedy.”

Austin, 32, earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 biographical drama Elvis. Since then, his career has been red hot, with roles in The Bikeriders and Dune: Part Two. Could Pirates be the next notch on his already impressive list of achievements?

“There’s still no script, and Austin doesn’t sign up for a movie without seeing what the story is going to be, but unlike Margot and Johnny, you can easily imagine making three movies with Austin because he’s young, fit and isn’t heavily tied to another franchise at a rival studio the way Margot is,” the insider says. “They just need to get the script right, and there’s no reason Margot and Johnny can’t be invited to the party and make some surprise appearances or cameos, schedules permitting.”

Austin Butler Is in 'Pole Position' to Be Offered Pirates Role
Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

While responding to casting rumors last month, Austin revealed he has long been a fan of the Pirates franchise.

“That just reminded me of when I was a kid,” he recalled during a June 10 interview with Entertainment Tonight. “In elementary school, we had to make these posters that had like your favorite music, your favorite actors. And at that time – I don’t know what grade, it must have been fourth grade, third grade or something – but it was – Pirates of the Caribbean was on there.”

So far, no official information about the plot of the next installment of the franchise has been publicly revealed.

“But what the studio really wants is a fresh new star who will spend years of his life making a new set of POTC films, and they’ll pay him handsomely for his services,” the insider says. “The plan is to get something ready to shoot by the end of next year, then release the reboot in 2027. It’s a long way off, but development has begun and Austin is in pole position to be offered the lead if the script is up to snuff.”