Pirates Of The Caribbean filmmaker Gore Verbinski has dealt the franchise a further blow - he's followed in the footsteps of Keira Knightley by pulling out of the forthcoming instalment in the blockbuster series.
Knightley announced last month (Mar09) she has turned down the chance to reprise her role as aristocrat-turned-swashbuckler Elizabeth Swann.
And now Verbinski - who directed the hugely successful first three films - has informed Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer that he wont be returning to helm the latest offering.
He tells Variety, "I had a fantastic time bringing 'Pirates' to life, and I am eternally grateful to Jerry, Johnny and the rest of the creative and production team. I'm looking forward to all of us crossing paths again in the future."
The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy has taken more than $2.6 billion (£1.7 billion) in box office receipts across the world.
Johnny Depp has already agreed to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fourth film, which is due to start shooting in 2010.