Rob MarshallAre you ready for singing and dancing pirates? Rob Marshall, the director of the Academy Award-winning Chicago and the upcoming musical Nine, is "on the verge" of helming the next installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, according to Variety. If all goes well, Johnny Depp will return as Jack Sparrow and production will start next year.

Of course, I was only joking about the "singing and dancing," since there's no indication that Disney or producer Jerry Bruckheimer want to make a musical version of their blockbuster franchise. But they do want to move forward as expeditiously as possible, and thus have been talking with a variety of directors recently, in the hope that Depp can do the next Pirates before starring in The Lone Ranger. The first Pirates movies were all directed by Gore Verbinski, who declined to move forward with the franchise in favor of pursuing a movie version of Bioshock. That particular project hasn't worked out so far, though it seems that Verbinski is ready to do something that doesn't involve pirates and high seas.

Meanwhile, this would be a strikingly sideways move for Marshall. Coming on board a successful franchise that has already grossed more than $2.6 billion worldwide is fraught with peril. And Depp's performances as Jack Sparrow have become iconic, so where will Marshall put his own personal stamp? Sources told Variety that the studio is so confident that he will sign on, they have already begun casting new characters that will appear in the next installment. Uh, shouldn't they wait for Marshall to sign on the dotted line?