Warner Bros. Pictures and Johnny Depp are parting ways, and Depp will no longer play the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise. Depp confirmed the news on Friday, posting a letter to fans on social media.
News of Depp’s departures from the films comes just a few days after the actor lost a libel case against The Sun, which published an article alleging that Depp was a “wife beater.”
Depp can still appeal the ruling.
“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 explained in the letter on Friday afternoon.
The third installment to the “Fantastic Beast” franchise is now delayed, and the studio bumped the film from November 2021 to November 2022. Depp’s role will be recast, according to the studio.
Warner Bros. Pictures hoped to make the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise stretch across five films, but the films are already trending downwards, even before Depp left the project. Depp’s character first appeared at the end of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” then returned for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” The first film in the franchise made over $800M worldwide, and the 2018 sequel brought in $654M.
The studio’s marketing department will have to tackle Depp’s departure, the fan’s reaction to author J.K. Rowling’s remarks on transgender people, and Depp’s recasting. The franchise isn’t having as easy as a time as the original Harry Potter novels.
Depp’s statement added, “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.”
The actor continued, “Finally, I wish to say this. The surreal judgement of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal,” he said. “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.”
Fans will just have to wait for news of Depp’s replacement, which should be announced ahead of production.
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