The wedding of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann is halted when Lord Cutler Beckett, chairman of the East India Trading Company, arrives with arrest warrants for them, and also for Commodore James Norrington, who allowed Captain Jack Sparrow to escape. Norrington has resigned and disappeared after losing the Navy's flagship, HMS Dauntless in a hurricane while pursuing Sparrow. Jack Sparrow is visited by Will’s father Bootstrap Bill Turner, aboard the Black Pearl. Bootstrap is now a crewman on the Flying Dutchman, captained by Davy Jones. Jack previously bartered a deal with Jones to raise the Pearl from the depths. Now Jack must join Jones' crew or be dragged to Davy Jones' Locker by the Kraken. Beckett, meanwhile, promises to free Elizabeth if Will brings him Jack's magic compass which points to whatever the holder wants most.
Will finds Jack and the crew on an island and frees them from cannibals. Shortly after, Governor Swann frees Elizabeth from jail, but he is then captured. Elizabeth bargains with Beckett to find the compass. Disguised as cabin boy aboard a Scottish merchant vessel, she makes her way to Tortuga where she later finds Jack and also a drunken Norrington. After escaping the cannibals, Jack and the crew visit voodoo priestess Tia Dalma, who reveals Jones' weakness is his heart, which is locked within the Dead Man's Chest. Jack must find it and the key that opens it. Locating the Dutchman, Will makes a deal with Jack to find the key to the chest in return for Jack's compass. Jack tricks Will, who is shanghaied into service aboard the Dutchman. Jones agrees to release Jack from their bargain in exchange for one hundred souls. Will meets his father aboard the Dutchman and learns that Jones possesses the key to the chest. Will escapes with the key and is taken aboard the same ship Elizabeth was on. Jones sends the Kraken after him, sinking the ship, but Will escapes.
In Tortuga, Jack hires a new crew, including Elizabeth and Norrington. With Elizabeth's use of Jack's compass, they are able to locate the chest. All parties arrive on Isla Cruces, where the chest is buried, but a three-way sword fight breaks out between Jack, Will, and Norrington, who all want the heart for their respective goals: Jack wants to call off the Kraken, Will wants to rescue his father, and Norrington wants to regain his life as a Navy officer. In the chaos, Norrington secretly steals the heart and runs off pretending to lure away the Dutchman's crew. Jones attacks the Pearl with the Kraken, which devours most of the crew and destroys all but one of the Pearl's lifeboats, but Jack, who briefly flees the battle, returns and wounds the Kraken with a net full of explosives.
Jack orders the survivors to abandon ship, but Elizabeth, realizing the Kraken only wants Jack, tricks him and chains him to the mast so that the crew can escape. The Kraken drags Jack and the Pearl to Davy Jones' Locker. Jones opens the chest to discover the heart is gone. In Port Royal, Norrington gives Beckett the heart and Letters of Marque meant for Jack, allowing him back into the navy as well as allowing Beckett to gain control of Davy Jones and the seas. The Pearl's crew take shelter with Tia Dalma, where they all agree to rescue Jack. Tia Dalma introduces the captain that will guide them: the resurrected Captain Barbossa.
In a post-credits scene, the cannibalistic tribe now worships a dog in replacement of Jack.
Following the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), the cast and crew signed on for two more sequels to be shot back-to-back, a practical decision on Disney's part to allow more time with the same cast and crew. Writer Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio decided not to make the sequels new adventures featuring the same characters, as with the Indiana Jones and James Bond series, but to retroactively turn The Curse of the Black Pearl into the first of a trilogy. They wanted to explore the reality of what would happen after Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann's embrace at the end of the first film, and initially considered the Fountain of Youth as the plot device. They settled on introducing Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman and the Kraken. They also introduced the historical East India Trading Company, who for them represented a counterpoint to the themes of personal freedom represented by pirates.
Planning began in June 2004, and production was much larger than The Curse of the Black Pearl, which was only shot on location in St. Vincent. This time, the sequels would require fully working ships, with a working Black Pearl built over the body of an oil tanker in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. By November, the script was still unfinished as the writers did not want director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to compromise what they had written, so Verbinski worked with James Byrkit to storyboard major sequences without need of a script, while Elliott and Rossio wrote a "preparatory" script for the crew to use before they finished the script they were happy with. By January 2005, with rising costs and no script, Disney threatened to cancel the film, but changed their minds. The writers would accompany the crew on location, feeling that the lateness of their rewrites would improve the spontaneity of the cast's performances.
Principal photography began on February 28, 2005, in Palos Verdes, beginning with Elizabeth's ruined wedding day. The crew spent the first shooting days at Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles, including the interiors of the Black Pearl and the Edinburgh Trader which Elizabeth stows away on, before moving to St. Vincent to shoot the scenes in Port Royal and Tortuga. Sets from the previous film were reused, having survived three hurricanes, although the main pier had to be rebuilt as it had collapsed in November. The crew had four tall ships at their disposal to populate the backgrounds, which were painted differently on each side for economy. One of the ships used was the replica of HMS Bounty used in the 1962 film adaptation of Mutiny on the Bounty.
On April 18, 2005, the crew began shooting at Dominica, a location Verbinski had selected as he felt it fitted the sense of remoteness he was looking for. However, this was also a problem; the Dominican government were completely unprepared for the scale of a Hollywood production, as while the 500-strong crew occupying around 90% of the roads on the island they had trouble moving around on the underdeveloped surfaces. The weather also alternated between torrential rainstorms and hot temperatures, the latter of which was made worse for the cast who had to wear period clothing. At Dominica, the sequences involving the Pelegosto and the forest segment of the battle on Isla Cruces were shot. Verbinski preferred to use practical props for the giant wheel and bone cage sequences, feeling long close-up shots would help further suspend the audience's disbelief. Dominica was also used for Tia Dalma's shack. Filming on the island concluded on May 26, 2005.
The crew moved to a small island in the Bahamas called White Cay for the beginning and end of the Isla Cruces battle, before production took a break until August, where in Los Angeles the interiors of the Flying Dutchman were shot. On September 18, 2005, the crew moved to Grand Bahama Island to shoot ship exteriors, including the working Black Pearl and Flying Dutchman. Filming there was a tumultuous period, starting with the fact that the tank had not actually been finished. The hurricane season caused many pauses in shooting, and Hurricane Wilma damaged many of the accessways and pumps, though no one was hurt nor were any of the ships destroyed. Filming completed on September 10, 2005.
The Flying Dutchman's crew members were originally conceived by writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio as ghosts, but Gore Verbinski disliked this and designed them as physical creatures. Their hierarchy is reflected by how mutated they were: newcomers had low level infections which resemble rosacea, while veterans had full-blown undersea creature attributes. Verbinski wanted to keep them realistic, rejecting a character with a turtle shell, and the animators watched various David Attenborough documentaries to study the movement of sea anemones and mussels. All of the crew are computer-generated, with the exception of Stellan Skarsgård, who played "Bootstrap" Bill Turner. Initially his prosthetics would be augmented with CGI but that was abandoned. Skarsgård spent four hours in the make-up chair and was dubbed "Bouillabaisse" on set.
Captain Davy Jones had originally been designed with chin growths, before the designers made the move to full-blown tentacles; the skin of the character incorporates the texture of a coffee-stained Styrofoam cup among other elements. To portray Jones on set, Bill Nighy wore a motion capture tracksuit that meant the animators at Industrial Light & Magic did not have to reshoot the scene in the studio without him or on the motion capture stage. Nighy wore make-up around his eyes and mouth to splice into the computer-generated shots, but the images of his eyes and mouth were not used. Nighy only wore a prosthetic once, with blue-colored tentacles for when Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) steals the key to the Dead Man's Chest from under his "beard" as he sleeps. To create the CG version of the character, the model was closely based on a full-body scan of Nighy, with Jones reflecting his high cheekbones. Animators studied every frame of Nighy's performance: the actor himself had blessed them by making his performance more quirky than expected, providing endless fun for them. His performance also meant new controls had to be stored. Finally, Jones' tentacles are mostly a simulation, though at times they were hand-animated when they act as limbs for the character.
The Kraken was difficult to animate as it had no real-life reference, until animation director Hal Hickel instructed the crew to watch King Kong vs. Godzilla which had a real octopus crawling over miniatures. On the set, two pipes filled with 30,000 pounds of cement were used to crash and split the Edinburgh Trader: Completing the illusion are miniature masts and falling stuntmen shot on a bluescreen stage. The scene where the Kraken spits at Jack Sparrow does not use computer-generated spit: it was real gunge thrown at Johnny Depp.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest premiered at Disneyland in California on June 24, 2006. It was the first Disney film to use the new computer-generated Walt Disney Pictures production logo, which took a year for the studio to design. Weta Digital was responsible for the logo's final animated rendering and Mark Mancina was hired to score a new composition of "When You Wish Upon A Star". The main people responsible for the logo's rendering are Cyrese Parrish and Cameron Smith.
The film became available on DVD on November 20, 2006 in the UK and December 5, 2006 in the US. It sold 9,498,304 units in its first week of sales (equivalent to $174,039,324). In total it sold 16,694,937 units, earning $320,871,909. It was the best-selling DVD of 2006 in terms of units sold and second in terms of sales revenue behind The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The DVD contained a commentary track with the screenwriters and a gag reel, with the double-disc featuring a video of the film premiere and a number of documentaries, including a full-length documentary entitled "According to the Plan" and eight featurettes. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on May 22, 2007. The film had its UK Television premiere on Boxing Day 2008 on BBC One at 20:30. It was seen by 6.8 million viewers according to overnight figures.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 54% based on 220 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Gone is Depp's unpredictability and much of the humor and originality of the first movie." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film received an average score of 53 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed it average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Michael Booth of the Denver Post gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it "two hours and 20 minutes of escapism that once again makes the movies safe for guilt-free fun." Drew McWeeny compared the film to The Empire Strikes Back, and also acclaimed its darkness in its depiction of the crew of the Flying Dutchman and its cliffhanger. The completely computer-generated Davy Jones turned out to be so realistic that some reviewers mistakenly identified Nighy as wearing prosthetic makeup.
The New York Times said, "You put down your money – still less than $10 in most cities – and in return you get two and a half hours of spirited swashbuckling, and Gore Verbinski has an appropriate sense of mischief, as a well as a gift, nearly equaling those of Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg, for integrating CGI seamlessly into his cinematic compositions." Empire magazine gave the film 3 stars saying "Depp is once again an unmitigated joy as Captain Sparrow, delivering another eye-darting, word-slurring turn with some wonderful slapstick flourishes. Indeed, Rossio and Elliot smartly exploit these in some wonderful action set-pieces." "We don’t get the predictable ‘all friends together on the same quest’ structure, and there’s a surfeit of surprises, crosses and double-crosses and cheeky character beats which stay true to the original’s anti-heroic sense of fun. After all, Jack Sparrow is a pirate, a bad guy in a hero’s hat, a man driven by self-gain over concern for the greater good, who will run away from a fight and cheat his ‘friends’ without a second’s thought." Lord McLovin of MovieWeb said "The second tale of Captain Jack Sparrow is another epic adventure!"
Paul Arendt of the BBC compared it to The Matrix Reloaded, as a complex film that merely led onto the next film. Richard George felt a "better construct of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End would have been to take 90 minutes of Chest, mix it with all of End and then cut that film in two." Alex Billington felt the third film "almost makes the second film in the series obsolete or dulls it down enough that we can accept it in our trilogy DVD collections without ever watching it."
Dead Man's Chest earned $423,315,812 in the North America and $642,863,913 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1,066,179,725. Worldwide, it ranks as the twentieth-highest-grossing film, the ninth-highest-grossing film distributed by Disney, the highest-grossing 2006 film, the highest-grossing film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the highest-grossing film to star Johnny Depp and the highest-grossing second installment in a franchise. It is the third film in history to reach the $1 billion mark worldwide, and it reached the mark in record time (63 days), a record that has since been surpassed by many films, of which the first was Avatar (in January 2010).
In North America, the film broke many records including the largest opening- and single-day gross ($55.8 million), the biggest opening-weekend gross ($135.6 million), the least time to reach $100, $200 and $300 million and the highest ten-day gross. However, most of them were broken by Spider-Man 3 in May 2007 and The Dark Knight in July 2008. The film was in first place at the box office for three consecutive weekends. It closed in theaters on December 7, 2006, with a $423.3 million haul. Thus, in North America, it is the seventeenth-highest-grossing film, although, adjusted for inflation, the film ranks forty-eight. It is also the highest-grossing 2006 film, the highest-grossing Pirates of the Caribbean film, and the seventh-highest-grossing Disney film. The film sold an estimated 64,628,400 tickets in the US.
Outside North America, it is the twenty-first-highest-grossing film, the third-highest-grossing Pirates film, the eighth-highest-grossing Disney film and the highest-grossing film of 2006. It set opening-weekend records in Russia and the CIS, Ukraine, Finland, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece and Italy. It was on top of the box office outside North America for 9 consecutive weekends and 10 in total. It was the highest-grossing film of 2006 in Australia, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and Thailand.
At the 79th Academy Awards, visual effects supervisors John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson, and Allen Hall won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, which was also the first time since 1994's Forrest Gump that Industrial Light & Magic had received that particular Academy Award. The film was also nominated for Best Art Direction, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
The film also won a BAFTA and Satellite award for Best Visual Effects, and six awards from the Visual Effects Society.
Other awards won by the film include Choice Movie: Action, Choice Movie Actor: Action for Johnny Depp at the 2006 Teen Choice Awards; Favorite Movie, Movie Drama, Male Actor for Depp and On-Screen Couple for Depp and Keira Knightley at the 33rd People's Choice Awards; Best Movie and Performance for Depp at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards and Best Special Effects at the Saturn Awards, and Favorite Movie at the 2007 Kids' Choice Awards.
It was ranked # 475 on Empire's 500 Greatest Films.
A video game adaptation of the film was developed by Griptonite Games and Amaze Entertainment and released by Buena Vista Games in June–August 2006 for the PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance.The first trailer was attached to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Disney produced a comic book adaption in their Junior Graphic Novels: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2007)
Disney sponsored a racing yacht in the 2005 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The boat, aptly named Black Pearl, raced under the team name "Pirates of the Caribbean" for the United States. The boat itself was a Volvo Open 70 class yacht designed by Farr Yacht Design. She was skippered to a 2nd place finish by American Paul Cayard after 31,000 nm (57,000 km), divided into 9 legs, taking 8 months to complete.