Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is a 2007 adventure film, the third film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The plot follows the crew of the Black Pearl rescuing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), from Davy Jones' Locker, and then preparing to fight the East India Trading Company, led by Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) and Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), who plan to extinguish piracy. Gore Verbinski directed the film, as he did with the previous two. It was shot in two shoots during 2005 and 2006, the former simultaneously with the preceding film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
The film was released in English-speaking countries on May 24, 2007 after Disney decided to move the release date to a day earlier than originally planned. Critical reviews were mixed, but At World's End was a box office hit, becoming the most successful film of 2007, grossing approximately $960 million worldwide, and making it the second most successful in the series, behind Dead Man's Chest. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Makeup and the Academy Award for Visual Effects.
The crew journey through a frozen sea and sail over an enormous waterfall into the Locker. Sparrow, trapped aboard the Pearl, constantly hallucinates about an entire crew comprising himself, each representing a different facet of his character. When the Pearl is mysteriously carried to an ocean shore by crab-like creatures (presumably sent by Tia Dalma), Jack is reunited with his old shipmates. He is initially reluctant to rejoin a crew which includes the four people who once attempted to kill him, with one (Elizabeth) succeeding. As the Black Pearl crew seek an escape route, dead souls are seen floating by underwater. Tia Dalma reveals that Davy Jones was appointed by Calypso, Goddess of the Sea and his lover, to ferry the dead to the next world. In return, Jones was allowed to step upon land for one day every ten years to be with his love; but when she failed to meet him, the scorned captain abandoned his duty and transformed into a monster. Elizabeth sees her father, Governor Weatherby Swann's soul pass by in a boat, murdered by Cutler Beckett after Swann became suspicious about the heart. Swann reveals that whoever stabs Jones' heart becomes the Flying Dutchman's immortal captain. A distraught Elizabeth vows revenge.
The Black Pearl remains trapped in the Locker until Sparrow deciphers a clue on the map, realizing the ship must be capsized to return to the living world. The ship is overturned at sunset and upturns back into the living world as the sun rises; a green flash marks their return. The crew stop at a small island to restock supplies, where they find the carcass of the Kraken (the beast having been killed by Jones on Beckett's orders). Jack realises just how serious the threat to piracy's existence truly is. Further in, they are ambushed by Sao Feng, who reveals his secret agreement with Will. However, he betrays Will, having made another deal with Cutler Beckett to hand over the crew and keep the Black Pearl. The Endeavor arrives, and Sparrow is taken aboard, although he refuses to divulge to Beckett where the Brethren Court will convene: instead, Jack manufactures a deal to lead Beckett to where the pirates will convene and lure them out for Beckett to destroy, in exchange for Beckett protecting him from Jones. When Feng is double-crossed by Beckett, Feng bargains with Barbossa to release the Pearl in exchange for Elizabeth, who he believes is Calypso trapped in human form. Feng attacks the Endeavor, allowing Jack to escape. Aboard his warship, the Empress, Feng tells Elizabeth that the first Brethren Court trapped Calypso into human form so men could rule the seas. Davy Jones attacks Feng's ship. The mortally wounded Feng appoints Elizabeth as the new captain and the Pirate Lord of the South China Sea. She and the crew are then imprisoned in the Flying Dutchman's brig. Also aboard is Admiral James Norrington, who frees Elizabeth and her crew after regretting his prior actions. They escape to their ship, although Norrington is killed by Will's deranged father, "Bootstrap" Bill after discovering Norrington aiding Elizabeth and her crew's escape.
Will leaves a trail of floating corpses for Beckett's ship to follow. Jack catches Will and gives him his magical compass so Beckett can find Shipwreck Cove. Jack then tosses him overboard, but Will is rescued by Beckett's ship, and it is revealed that Davy Jones masterminded Calypso's imprisonment by the first pirate lords. At Shipwreck Island, the nine pirate lords introduce themselves and present the nine pieces of eight. When they are told the reason of the meeting, they disagree over freeing Calypso. Barbossa calls upon Captain Teague Sparrow, Keeper of the Pirata Codex, and Jack's father, to confirm that only a Pirate King can declare war. Elizabeth, newly ordained Pirate Lord of the South China Sea, is elected Pirate King after Sparrow’s vote for her breaks a stalemate (each pirate lord only voted for themselves). She orders the pirates to go to war against Beckett. During a parley with Beckett and Jones, Elizabeth and Barbossa swap Sparrow for Will.
Barbossa tricks the other pirate lords into yielding their "pieces of eight" rank insignias, which he needs to free Calypso, who is bound in human form as Tia Dalma. As Barbossa releases her in a ritual, Will discloses that it was Davy Jones, her lover, who betrayed her to the Brethren Court. Her fury unleashes a violent maelstrom just as the Navy's massive fleet appears on the horizon. During the battle, Sparrow escapes the Flying Dutchman's brig and steals the Dead Man's Chest. Meanwhile, Davy Jones kills Mercer and obtains the key to the chest, which Jack then steals from Jones during a duel. The Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman face off near the center of the massive maelstrom. Will proposes to Elizabeth, and Captain Barbossa marries them in the midst of battle. Will boards the Flying Dutchman to retrieve the chest, but is mortally wounded by Davy Jones. As Bootstrap Bill attacks Jones, Sparrow, who wanted the heart for his own immortality, places his broken sabre in Will's hand and helps him stab Jones' heart, killing Jones. Jack and Elizabeth escape the Flying Dutchman as the crew carve out the dead Will's heart and places it into the Dead Man's Chest; the ship disappears into the whirlpool. Beckett, never intending to honor his agreement with Jack, moves to attack the Black Pearl. The Flying Dutchman suddenly resurfaces from the depths, with Will as the captain and the crewmen now human. Will and Jack take the Dutchman and the Pearl along either side of the Endeavour and fire a single full broadside each, destroying it and killing Beckett. The armada retreats in disarray.
Although Will has been saved and the Dutchman crew has regained their humanity, he is bound to sail the sea as the Dutchman's captain. Will and Elizabeth have one day together where they consummate their marriage on an island. Will departs at sunset, but first gives Elizabeth the Dead Man's Chest for safekeeping. Shortly after, Barbossa again commandeers the Black Pearl, stranding Jack and Gibbs in Tortuga. Having anticipated Barbossa's deception, however, Sparrow has already removed the map's middle that leads to the Fountain of Youth. Ten years later, Elizabeth and her and Will's nine-year old son stand atop a seacliff; a green flash fills the sky. The Flying Dutchman appears on the horizon with Will Turner aboard, sailing towards his family.
Parts of the third film were shot during location filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, a long shoot which finished on March 1, 2006. During August 2005, the Singapore sequence was shot. The set built on Stage 12 of the Universal backlot, and comprised 40 structures within an 80 by 130-foot tank that was 3½ feet deep. As 18th century Singapore is not a well-documented era, the filmmakers chose to use an Expressionist style based on Chinese and Malaysian cities of the same period. The design of the city was also intended by Verbinski to parody spa culture, with fungi growing throughout the set. Continuing this natural feel, the floorboards of Sao Feng's bathhouse had to be cut by hand, and real humidity was created by the combination of gallons of water and the lighting equipment on the set.
Filming resumed in August 2006 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and continued until early 2007 for seventy days off the California coast, as all the shooting required in the Caribbean had been conducted in 2005. Davy Jones' Locker was shot at Utah, and it was shot in a monochromatic way to represent its different feeling from the usual colorful environment of a pirate. The climactic battle was shot in a former air hanger at Palmdale, California, where the cast had to wear wetsuits underneath their costumes on angle-tipped ships. The water-drenched set was kept in freezing temperatures, to make sure bacteria did not come inside and infect the crew. A second unit shot at Niagara Falls. Industrial Light & Magic did 750 effects shots, while Digital Domain also took on 300. They spent just five months finishing the special effects. The film posed numerous challenges in creating water-based effects.
Filming finished on January 10, 2007 in Molokai, and the first assembly cut was three hours. Twenty minutes were removed, not including end credits, though producer Jerry Bruckheimer maintained that the long running time was needed to make the final battle work in terms of build-up. Hans Zimmer composed the score as he did for the previous film, composing eight new motifs including a new love theme for the At World's End soundtrack. He scored scenes as the editors began work, so as to influence their choice of cutting to the music. Gore Verbinski helped on the score. He played the guitar in the parley scene between Barbossa, Sparrow, Elizabeth and Will, Davy Jones and Cutler Beckett. He also co-wrote the song "Hoist the Colours" with Zimmer.
The world premiere of At World's End was held on May 19, 2007, at Disneyland, home of the ride that inspired the movie and where the first two films in the trilogy debuted. Disneyland offered the general public a chance to attend the premiere through the sale of tickets, priced at $1,500 each, with proceeds going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation charity. Just a few weeks before the film's release, Walt Disney Pictures decided to move the United States opening of At World's End from screenings Friday, May 25, 2007 to Thursday at 8 PM, May 24, 2007. The film opened in 4,362 theaters domestically, beating Spider-Man 3's theater opening record by 110 (this record was surpassed by The Dark Knight the following year).
Drew McWeeny was an exception, praising its complexity as giving it repeat-viewing value, and its conclusion as "perhaps the most canny move it makes. Todd Gilchrist found the story too similar to other cinematic trilogies such as Star Wars but praised the production values. Brian Lowry felt that "unlike last year's bloated sequel, it at least possesses some semblance of a destination, making it slightly more coherent - if no less numbing during the protracted finale. Total Film praised the performances but complained that the twists and exposition made it hard to care for the characters. Edward Douglas liked the film but had issues with its pacing, while Blake Wright criticized the Davy Jones' Locker and Calypso segments. James Berardinelli found it the weakest of the trilogy as "the last hour offers adventure as rousing as anything provided in either of the previous installments... which doesn't account for the other 108 minutes of this gorged, self-indulgent, and uneven production. Peter Travers praised Richards and Rush but felt "there can indeed be too much of a good thing," regarding Depp's character. Travers later declared the movie to be one of the worst films of the year.
Some confusion among fans was regarding the final scene, and whether there was a contradiction in the storyline when Will returned to Elizabeth ten years later. In the DVD commentary, the screenwriters state that because Elizabeth remained faithful to Will for the interim 10 years, and he fulfilled his duty to ferry souls to the next world, he is freed from the Flying Dutchman. Though the "Pirates Secrets Revealed" leaflet insert in the DVD release says that Will is bound forever to the Flying Dutchman and may only step on land once every ten years, this may only be a misconception on Disney's part.