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 installment in the blockbuster series.
Knightley announced last month 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 won't 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 in box office receipts across the world.
has already agreed to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fourth film, which is due to start shooting in 2010.
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(This news article provided by World Entertainment News Network)