Jay Wolpert developed a script based on the theme park ride in 2001, which Stuart Beattie rewrote 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 supernatural curse to the storyline. Filming took place from October 2002 to March 2003 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and on sets constructed around Los Angeles, California.
The world premiere was held at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, on June 28, 2003. The Curse of the Black Pearl was an unexpected success, with positive reviews and grossing over $654 million worldwide. The film became the first in a series, with two back-to-back sequels, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, released in 2006 and 2007. The latest in the series, On Stranger Tides, was released in 2011. The original film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Depp.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is the thrilling high-seas adventure with a mysterious twist that started it all. The roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow's (Johnny Depp) idyllic pirate life capsizes after his nemesis, the wily Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), steals his ship, the Black Pearl, and later attacks the town of Port Royal—kidnapping the Governor's beautiful daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). In a gallant attempt to rescue her and recapture the Black Pearl, Elizabeth's childhood friend Will Turner joins forces with Jack. What Will doesn't know is that a cursed treasure has doomed Barbossa and his crew to live forever as the undead.
Sailing to Port Royal, Governor Weatherby Swann, his daughter Elizabeth, and Lieutenant James Norrington encounter a burning shipwreck and recover a young boy Will Turner. Elizabeth hides a golden medallion owned by Will, and sees a ghost ship vanishing into the fog. Eight years on, Norrington is promoted to the rank of Commodore and proposes to Elizabeth, but her tight corset causes her to faint and fall into the sea. She is rescued by Captain Jack Sparrow, who Norrington identifies as a pirate who intends on commandeering a ship. Jack attempts to escape but runs into Will, now a blacksmith and a talented swordsman. They engage in a sword fight but Jack is captured by Norrington’s men and imprisoned.
That night, the Black Pearl, the ship Elizabeth saw as a child, assaults Port Royal in search of the medallion. Two pirates, Pintel and Ragetti, escort Elizabeth to meet Captain Barbossa to negotiate parley. Elizabeth pretends to be called “Elizabeth Turner”, but while Barbossa stops the attack he takes her prisoner. Barbossa reveals to Elizabeth that his crew are cursed to be immortal after taking the Aztec treasure of Cortez from Isla de Muerta, appearing as skeletons when out in moonlight. In order to free themselves, the crew gathered every gold piece and gave blood sacrifices, but still need the last piece and Elizabeth’s blood to complete it.
Will frees Jack from prison to rescue Elizabeth, Jack agreeing to when he learns Will’s last name. They commandeer the HMS Interceptor and recruit a motley crew from Tortuga, including Jack’s friend Joshamee Gibbs. Jack reveals that Will’s father, Bootstrap Bill, was a pirate. Will learns that Jack was formerly captain of the Black Pearl until Barbossa mutinied and marooned him on an island, leaving him with a pistol with a single shot that Jack never used, intending to shoot Barbossa. Arriving at Isla de Muerta, Will and Jack observe Barbossa trying to commence the blood ritual but finds Elizabeth is not the child of Bootstrap Bill. Will spirits Elizabeth away to the Interceptor, while Jack reunites with his former crew and is locked in the Pearl’s brig.
The Pearl pursues the Interceptor, taking the crew hostage and destroying the ship. Will makes a deal with Barbossa to release Elizabeth in exchange for lifting the curse, but Barbossa maroons Jack and Elizabeth on the same island Jack had been left on before. However, Elizabeth makes a smoke signal using Jack’s hidden supplies and alerts the HMS Dauntless, reuniting with her father and Norrington, who agrees to rescue Will when Elizabeth accepts his proposal. Jack and Norrington plot an assault on the pirates with Jack going in to lure them out but the plan goes awry when Barbossa sends his crew underwater to assassinate the Dauntless' crew. Elizabeth escapes the Dauntless alone, freeing Jack’s crew from the Pearl, and ventures to the island to rescue Will.
Jack and Barbossa duel, but when Barbossa runs Jack through, he is revealed to be cursed too, having taken a piece of gold from Cortez’s chest. Jack shoots Barbossa, Will revealing the curse has been lifted by fulfilling the blood ritual, and Barbossa drops dead. A short time later, Jack faces a public hanging, but Will attempts to rescue him. The two are captured, but when Elizabeth defends them both, Jack escapes aboard the Black Pearl. Governor Swann pardons Will and gives his blessing for Elizabeth to marry him. In a post-credits scene, Barbossa’s pet monkey Jack regains immortality by stealing a piece of gold from the chest.