Johnny Depp Axed From ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise By Warner Bros After “Wife Beater” Verdict In UK; Film Delayed To 2022

Following a stinging loss in the UK courts over allegations of being a “wife beater,” Johnny Depp has been cut loose by Warner Bros from its Fantastic Beasts franchise. His character Grindelwald will be recast.

The threequel is also being pushed from its original November 12, 2021 release date to summer 2022.

“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″.

Having stayed in the UK in recent weeks to film the David Yates-directed picture, Depp himself first made the exit news public earlier in the day via his Instagram page, saying he had been “asked to resign” by the studio.

Fantastic Beasts 3 has been shooting since September after a pandemic-related delay. Depp was expected to be in production on the movie in London from October to February 2021 and Deadline understands he had filmed scenes prior to the verdict.

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After a spectacle of a trial in London over the summer, Justice Andrew Nicol decreed on November 2 that the claim in an article by the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun about his relationship with Amber Heard that Depp was a “wife beater” was “substantially true.”

The blow to Depp, who unsurprisingly said today he would appeal the verdict, put not only the litigious actor’s relationship with the AT&T-owned Warner Bros in the spotlight, but also his ongoing $50 million defamation suit against his ex-wife Heard on this side of the Atlantic.

Delayed numerous times, the legal battle is currently set to go to trial in Virginia on May 3, 2021. Depp is set to finally give a deposition in the matter for three days starting November 10.

In and out of the courts on various matters the past few years, Depp sued Aquaman star Heard in early 2019 over an op-ed the actress wrote about domestic violence for the Washington Post in December 2018. Depp believes the piece cost him a role in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean reboot, though it never actually mentions him by name. Having failed repeatedly to get the case tossed, Heard countersued for $100 million earlier this summer.

Depp is scheduled to make an appearance at Poland’s Camerimage film festival later this month; the fest did not respond to requests for an update on whether the actor was still slated to attend.