Posted 4/3/2003 12:23 AM 'Pirates' boasts some gnarly effects By Susan Wloszczyna, USA TODAY Who's that Oscar-winning actor behind all dem bones? It's Geoffrey Rush, and, no, his Botox treatment did not go bad. He just cursed, that's all. Geoffrey Rush (Capt. Barbossa) morphs into a hideous, skeletal pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The Aussie star of Shakespeare in Love and Shine is Capt. Barbossa, the villainous scalawag of the sea, in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Disney's $125 million supernatural swashbuckler, based on its popular theme-park attraction, will dock in theaters July 9. But in a synergistic publicity stunt worthy of a Barnum-esque showman, the company will unveil a 2-minute, 20-second trailer for the action-adventure at the same time this Sunday night, 8:15 ET/PT, on all Disney-owned TV properties ABC, the Disney Channel, ABC Family, ESPN 2, ESPNews, ESPN Classic, SoapNet, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, A&E, the History Channel and E! Entertainment Television. On ESPN, the sneak peek will run at 11:15 ET/ 8:15 PT. Those who want to catch Johnny Depp in the act of being the heroic rogue pirate (in a Seinfeld-esque puffy shirt, we hope) can also see the preview in Walt Disney World and Disneyland resort hotel rooms, on Disney cruise lines, on JumboTrons at Walt Disney World, all eight ESPNZones and on the Internet (pirates.movies.com). The photos above give an early taste of the special effects created by Industrial Light & Magic, which digitally expose the bones of Barbossa's scurvy crew whenever moonlight hits them. Imagine something out of the Night of the Living Dead plunderers. "The different characteristics of the actors come through when they become skeletons," producer Jerry Bruckheimer says. "There is some skin, hair, clothes, eyeballs." In other words, you can pick these bones apart from one another. In the tale, Barbossa and his sailors hijack Depp's ship, the Black Pearl, and kidnap the governor's beauteous daughter (Keira Knightley of Bend It Like Beckham), who holds the key to breaking their curse and becoming mortal again. Says Bruckheimer: "The pirates can't enjoy the pleasures in life food, sex, any of those things. They just are consumed with greed. What Barbossa really wants is a nice green apple to bite into." Besides a few frights, Bruckheimer promises romance (Orlando Bloom, pinup elf Legolas from The Lord of the Rings, is a blacksmith who joins Depp to rescue his beloved Knightley), more than a few comical yo-ho-hos (the script is co-written by Shrek's Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio) as well as a treasure chest of plot twists. Fans of the theme-park Pirates will be pleased to see some references float by, including a dog with keys in its mouth and the theme song. (Sample lyrics: "We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot.") Despite the built-in familiarity of its title, the salty fantasy may face some rough waters with audiences who turned up their noses at the animated buccaneer action of Disney's Treasure Planet or found the studio's first theme-park movie spinoff, The Country Bears, simply unbearable. Not only that, there hasn't been a run on pirate movies since Geena Davis as a lady swashbuckler sunk to the box-office equivalent of Davy Jones' locker in 1995's Cutthroat Island. But Bruckheimer assures that Pirates will have more in common with his past output, including such blockbusters as Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and Con Air. He says of the film that just wrapped two weeks ago: "It is exciting, romantic and funny."