Johnny Depp has dropped out of the starring role in “Black Mass,” a biopic about Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, after refusing to take a salary reduction from his asking fee of $20 million. According to an article published by The Hollywood Reporter on May 30, 2013, after “Black Mass” got a lukewarm response from buyers at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the filmmakers decided to trim the movie’s budget and told Depp that his salary would be decreased to $10 million. Depp and his representatives at United Talent Agency (UTA) refused to take the pay cut and exited the project.
“Black Mass” is directed by Barry Levinson, who is best known for his Oscar-winning 1988 blockbuster “Rain Man.” Cross Creek and Exclusive Media are the production companies.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Ben Affleck is developing a separate biopic (still untitled) about Bulger that Affleck plans to direct. Oscar winner Matt Damon is attached to star as Bulger in the movie.
Depp had been scheduled to begin filming “Black Mass” in 2013, after he completes filming the sci-fi flick “Transcendence.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Joel Edgerton (“The Great Gatsby,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) was attached to “Black Mass” in a supporting role as a disgraced FBI agent, but it is unknown if Edgerton will still be committed to the project now that Depp won’t be in the movie.
Depp played real-life 1930s gangster John Dillinger in the the 2009 movie “Public Enemies,” directed by Michael Mann.
Depp co-stars as Tonto in “The Lone Ranger,” which arrives in U.S. and Canadian theaters on July 3, 2013. Armie Hammer plays the title character in the movie. “The Lone Ranger” is directed by Gore Verbinski, who previously worked with Depp in the first three “Pirates of Caribbean” movies and the Oscar-winning animated film “Rango.”
There will also be a fifth “Pirates of Caribbean” movie, which has a release date of July 10, 2015. Walt Disney Pictures has announced that “Kon-Tiki” directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg will helm the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. Depp’s staring role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the 2003 film “Pirates of Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (the first movie in the series) earned him his first Oscar nomination and catapulted him to A-list status in the movie industry, making him one of the highest-earning and most famous actors in the world.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp is in talks to star in Walt Disney Pictures’ version of the musical “Into the Woods.” The movie would reunite Depp with director Rob Marshall, who helmed 2011’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Depp earned his third Oscar nomination for starring in the title role of the 2007 musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” directed by Depp’s longtime collaborator Tim Burton.
In 2010, Depp directed an independent documentary about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, but the film does not yet have a distributor or title and has not been screened for the public.
May 27, 2014 update: Depp is back in “Black Mass,” but director Levinson is out of the picture and has been replaced by director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart,” “Out of the Furnace.”) The Huffington Post published paparazzi photos of Depp filming “Black Mass” on location in Boston. The reasons for Levinson’s exit from the movie have not been made public.