Johnny Depp Axed From ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Role; Sequel Moved To Summer 2022

On this site I’ve taken great pains to not cover the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard legal issues, except for when they bled over into actual movie productions. With that in mind, I’ve often referred to Depp as a dead weight on the Fantastic Beasts franchise, as it was upon his arrival that it suddenly saw a drastic dip in box office. Over the years he has become persona non grata and being labeled an abuser of women has not helped. And now that Depp has lost his libel case over accusations of being a “wife beater”, Warner Bros. has done the inevitable and cut the actor loose.

Warner Bros. has fired Johnny Depp from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, the Harry Potter spinoff in which he played villain Grindelwald. The character will now be recast.

“Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise,” the studio said in a statement Friday. “We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date. Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022″.

While the focus is on Depp in that statement, we shouldn’t miss that Fantastic Beasts 3 has also been delayed. It was due to open in November 2021, but has now moved to the following summer.

The decision to remove Depp makes sense. Colin Farrell originated the role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with Depp making a cameo at the end when the evil wizard revealed his true form. That film went on to earn $814M when few knew that Depp was involved. The sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, thrust Depp prominently forward in the marketing and only made $654M. Not a coincidence. Warner Bros., and even author/screenwriter JK Rowling, rushed to defend Depp’s casting and insisted he would return. But attention on him didn’t lessen, and his public image failed to improve for the better.

Depp’s dismissal does not appear to be mutual. In a statement from Depp, he says Warner Bros. asked him to resign from the franchise…


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And now let’s see who they get to replace Depp in the Grindelwald role. The easiest would be to revert back to Farrell, as he’s familiar with it and it can be explained without much effort. Or they could choose to cast another big name, perhaps hoping some new star power will give the sequel a much-needed boost in attention.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.