The removal of Johnny Depp from the Fantastic Beasts franchise has come as a big surprise for many, but why did Warner Bros. make the decision?
Johnny Depp has recently been removed from J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise, in which he played evil wizard Grindelwald. But Warner Bros.’ official reason for doing this has remained largely unknown to the public—until now.
The first installment in the Harry Potter spin-off series arrived back in 2016, bringing with it no small amount of excitement from wizarding world-starved fans. Adapted from Rowling’s 2001 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them novella, the story takes place 70 years prior to the events involving Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Its all-star cast includes Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne playing lead character Newt Scamander, along with the likes of Colin Farrell and Depp, and has generally been well received by critics and Potter fans. However, in the last several years since the release of 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, much has changed. Depp has been at the center of a nasty domestic abuse scandal with his ex-wife Amber Heard (Aquaman), which threatens to consume his entire career—as well as destabilize Fantastic Beasts.
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Recently, Depp was released from his duties as Grindelwald by Warner Bros., both within the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 3 and the franchise as a whole. The move came as Depp was handed a defeat in a British court over a defamation suit he’d filed against U.K. tabloid The Sun after it referred to him as a “wife-beater.” According to THR, Depp’s status as Grindelwald hung in the balance until the court reached its decision, at which point Warner Bros. made the decision to let Depp go. The court ruling opens the door for a specific characterization of the acclaimed star as an abuser—something that Warner Bros. did not want tainting either its image or that of Fantastic Beasts.
It should also be pointed out that Depp wasn’t fired from Fantastic Beasts; rather, he was asked to step away from the production, to which he agreed. Depp’s full salary is still required to be paid out, regardless of his participation in the film or not, making the move a costly one for Warner Bros. However, in the long run, this decision will likely mean fewer headaches for Warner Bros., given that including Fantastic Beasts 3, there are still three more films to be released in the franchise. Exactly who will be cast to replace Depp as Grindelwald remains to be seen, but as Depp has already played the wizard in the first two films, replacing him without upsetting the current flow of the series could indeed be a challenging task.
Removing Depp from the franchise is certainly a blow for fans, but ultimately Warner Bros. did what had to be done. With many people now actively boycotting anything related to J.K. Rowling due to her previous anti-Trans statements, the studio simply couldn’t afford to be embroiled in another controversy. As things currently stand, the impact from the Rowling issue has yet to be determined, and keeping Depp on board when he can now legally be branded “an abuser” was more baggage that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them couldn’t afford to be associated with.
Next: Fantastic Beasts 3 Must Bring Back Colin Farrell As The Original Grindelwald
Key Release Dates
- Fantastic Beasts 3 (2021)Release date: Nov 12, 2021
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