Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Gore Verbinski and the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer, the film is based on Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney theme parks. The story follows pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) as they rescue the kidnapped Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from the cursed crew of the Black Pearl, captained by Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who become undead skeletons in the moonlight.
Jay Wolpert developed a script in 2001, and Stuart Beattie rewrote it in early 2002. Around that time, producer Jerry Bruckheimer became involved in the project; he had Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio work on the script, adding the plot device of a supernatural curse to the story to bring it in line with the original theme park ride. Filming took place from October 2002 to March 2003 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and on sets constructed around Los Angeles, California. It was also notable for being the first film released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner to be rated PG-13 by the MPAA.
The film's world premiere was held at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California on June 28, 2003. Despite low expectations, the film was a huge box-office success, grossed $654.3 million worldwide; making it the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2003. It received generally positive reviews from critics. The film has been widely cited as the film that launched Depp as a box office leading man after many years as a cult movie star. Depp won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, in addition to Best Actor nominations at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. The Curse of the Black Pearl was also nominated for four other Academy Awards and BAFTAs. The film became the first in a franchise, with two back-to-back sequels, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, released in 2006 and 2007. Two more sequels, On Stranger Tides and Dead Men Tell No Tales, were released in 2011 and 2017, respectively.
In the year 1720, while sailing to Port Royal, Jamaica aboard HMS Dauntless, Governor Weatherby Swann, his daughter Elizabeth, Joshamee Gibbs, and Lieutenant James Norrington encounter a shipwreck and recover a boy, Will Turner. Elizabeth discovers a golden pirate medallion around his neck and takes it for herself.
Eight years later, Norrington is promoted to commodore and proposes to Elizabeth. Her corset makes her faint and falls into the sea, which causes the medallion to emit a pulse. Captain Jack Sparrow, who just arrived in Port Royal to commandeer a ship, rescues Elizabeth. Norrington identifies Jack as a pirate, and a chase ensues. Jack encounters Will, now a blacksmith and swordsman. They duel, and Jack is captured and imprisoned. That night, the Black Pearl attacks Port Royal in search of the medallion. The crew of the Pearl capture Elizabeth, taking her to meet Captain Barbossa. Elizabeth claims her last name is Turner to conceal her identity as the governor's daughter. Barbossa explains that the medallion is one of 882 gold pieces that his crew took from a treasure of Hernán Cortés on Isla de Muerta. This placed a curse on Barbossa and his crew, turning them into immortals who take the appearance of skeletons while in the moonlight. Barbossa and his crew have returned all but one of the pieces, with Elizabeth's medallion being the final piece. Barbossa takes her prisoner, believing her to be the daughter of William "Bootstrap Bill" Turner, whose blood is needed to lift the curse.