Getty Images, Andreas Rentz / Staff
Update, November 10th, 2020: Despite Depp's departure from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Warner Bros. is still obligated to pay Depp his full salary for filming one scene in the upcoming third film. Depp is slated to receive an eight-figure payout. Huh.
According to THR, Depp had a "pay-or-play contract" with Warner Bros., which requires that an actor be fully compensated by a studio whether or not a film is made and/or if said actor is recast, which Depp's character, Gellert Grindelwald, reportedly will be.
Furthermore, THR learned there was no morality clause in Depp's contract with Warner Bros., which would restrict or restrain certain behaviors of individuals within the contract in an effort to avoid scandal and could have affected this outcome. Warner Bros. asked Depp to resign due to his legal issues concerning his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Depp is reportedly the highest-earning actor in the third installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, due in theaters July of 2022, earning more than costars Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne, despite not being in the film.
No, there's no logic to it. But, unfortunately, that's Hollywood for you. The best way to see this kind of disparity and unfairness change is to use your wallets to speak up and refrain from seeing the film when it hits theaters.
Original Post, November 6th, 2020: In a letter posted to Instagram earlier today, November 6th, Johnny Depp announced that he has left the Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts franchise, in which he played Gellert Grindelwald. His departure from the series comes shortly after losing his libel case against Britain's The Sun. A U.K. judge found that an article published in The Sun claiming Depp was violent with his ex-wife Amber Heard was not untrue.
"In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement," Depp wrote in his letter. "Firstly, 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."
He continued, "Secondly, I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request."
Depp then noted that the "surreal judgement" of the U.K. court doesn't change his "fight to tell the truth" and that he will appeal the court's decision. "My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."
Warner Bros. said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly that they plan to recast Depp's character, whom he has played since the first film in 2016, for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 3, which is currently in production and slated to debut in theaters come 2022.
Keeping Depp attached to the franchise has been a controversial decision for Warner Bros., Fantastic Beasts author J.K. Rowling, and the franchise director, David Yates, since rumors and accusations of Depp's abuse toward Heard bubbled to the surface in 2017.
In December 2018, Heard published an op-ed in The Washington Post detailing her history with domestic abuse, and though she never mentioned Depp's name in the piece, Depp believed, per Deadline, the essay was what made Disney boot him from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and he ultimately sued Heard because of it.
Warner Bros. teased there would be five Fantastic Beasts films on the docket, but between Depp's involvement and J.K. Rowling's recent fall from grace due to her venomous comments about transgender people, it's unclear whether or not the series will fill that promise.