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Disney hits high seas with Black Pearl in Volvo Ocean Race- AP- 10/25/05

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  • Disney hits high seas with Black Pearl in Volvo Ocean Race- AP- 10/25/05

    Full text available here:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercu...s/13025027.htm

    Be ye warned! There's a pirate ship headed for the high seas.

    When the Volvo Ocean Race starts Nov. 12 from Vigo, Spain, the sloop with the skull and crossed cutlasses on the sails will stand out from the rest of the fleet.

    The Black Pearl.

    Although this Black Pearl won't slip mysteriously out of fog banks, and Johnny Depp won't be at the wheel as Capt. Jack Sparrow, The Walt Disney Co. has found a high-tech, floating billboard to promote "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," the first of two sequels to its surprise 2003 blockbuster, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

    Disney is backing the only U.S. entry in the 31,250-mile, nine-leg, around-the-world race that attracts only the hardiest of scabrous dogs, who must dodge icebergs in the Southern Ocean and navigate the Doldrums and even the Bermuda Triangle.

    In "The Curse of the Black Pearl," Depp's rascally buccaneer carries a compass that doesn't point north.

    In this eight-month race, "Our compass is going to point in the direction of the finish line," said Donald Evans, vice president of marketing and promotions for Buena Vista International, Disney's international film distribution arm.

    "With the first 'Pirates,' we believe we elevated pirates to pirate chic," Evans said. "It's not about the pirates you knew about 10 years ago. It just seemed these things were meant to be together, these movies and this race."

    The combination of Disney's marketing muscle and as much pirate imagery as possible in a competitive race - plus port stops in Baltimore and New York - could draw plenty of attention to a sport that doesn't always know how to market itself.

    "This is a quantum leap forward for the sport," said Glenn Bourke, chief executive officer of the Volvo Ocean Race. "I think it has the potential to take it to a completely different audience.

    "Our audience primarily is sailing aficionados. Then you add in sports lovers in general, and now I think it takes it to movie goers, to kids, to just about anyone the movie captured the imagination of the last time. It broadens it massively."

    A Hollywood ending, of course, would have the Black Pearl at the front of the fleet of seven 70-foot, high-performance sloops heading into the finish line at Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 17.
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