Johnny Depp will receive over $US10 million for the latest Fantastic Beasts film despite only having filmed one scene before being booted from production.
Depp agreed to vacate his role in the Harry Potter prequel series as the villain Gellert Grindelwald after losing a libel suit over being accused of being a “wife beater”.
His role will be recast before the movie’s 2022 release. However, he will still receive his full salary for his work on the film due to a detail in his contract.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp has only filmed one scene for the film since production began in September, but due to his ‘pay or play’ contract – which is common with many A-list stars – he will be fully compensated whether or not the film is made or recast.
The next Fantastic Beasts entry was set to feature Depp, Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne with equal screen time, but with an eight-figure salary, Depp would have been the highest earner of the three. His high payday comes thanks to his box office track record in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, The Hollywood Reporter claims.
Doubt had been cast over Depp’s future in the films since 2017, following his former partner Amber Heard’s initial accusations of abuse. According to sources who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio wanted to allow due process to take its course before making a decision.
On Friday, Warner Bros. spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Fox News that Depp will no longer star in the franchise.
“Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date,” the studio said.
“Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and will debut in theatres worldwide in the summer of 2022.”
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The 57-year-old actor reacted via social media on Friday, saying he had been “asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request”.
He said, “I’d like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty.
“I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days.
“Finally, I wish to say this.
“The surreal judgment of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal.”
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Despite saying in 2017 that she was “happy” to have Depp continue in the role, Fantastic Beasts writer J.K. Rowling – who has a close working relationship with Warner Bros. – did not push back on the move to cut the actor from the franchise this time around.
Rowling had written in a December 2017 statement: “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”
Depp lost his high-stakes libel case last Monday against The Sun newspaper, which had labelled him a “wife beater” over his volatile relationship with former spouse.
At the end of an often lurid defamation trial in London’s High Court, Judge Andrew Nichol found the newspaper’s claims were “substantially true”.
He said he believed the actor had abused Heard to such an extent that she frequently feared for her life.