Warner Bros. is currently preparing for Fantastic Beasts 3, the third of five planned movies in Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's series. Johnny Depp has a lead role as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. But now executives are reportedly worried about backlash as the legal battle between Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard rages on.
You may recall Johnny Depp's $50 million defamation suit against Amber Heard, alleging her abuse allegations against him were part of an elaborate hoax to advance her career; he also claimed her op-ed cost him his job with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Amber Heard just responded to Johnny Depp's lawsuit by detailing some graphic allegations against him, via The Post, claiming he became "the Monster" when drunk or medicated, and kicked and choked her, and then often wouldn't remember his violent behavior. She shared text messages said to be from him and his assistant acknowledging and apologizing for Depp's alleged behavior.
Johnny Depp’s lawyer, Adam Waldman, claimed again that Amber Heard's allegations were a hoax, and said they were currently interviewing other women who had come forward claiming they were victims of violence and other abuse by Heard.
But the continued play of abuse allegations in headlines has reportedly concerned some Warner Bros. execs, at least according to sources who spoke to The Post.
Executives at Warner Bros. are wondering how to deal with the backlash of the Depp matter on the Harry Potter franchise. High-level female execs at the studio are extremely worried about working with Depp and the message it sends to the public, especially after the recent sordid departure of CEO Kevin Tsujihara. [...] This is yet another blow to the morale of female employees at the studio. If Warner Bros. continues to stick by Depp, it would reveal a lot about the values the company holds.
CEO Kevin Tsujihara recently exited Warner Bros. after a sexual misconduct casting couch scandal.
J.K. Rowling backed Johnny Depp when concerns were previously voiced about including him in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. She wrote on her website in December 2017 that Harry Potter fans had "legitimate concerns" but "[b]ased on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies."
Now, this source claims not everyone is happy that J.K. Rowling made such a public statement:
Many at Warner Bros. wish that Rowling hadn’t come out so strongly behind Depp, because having made her opinion so public boxes them into a corner.
Warner Bros. reps didn't respond to The Post's requests for comment, so all we have to go on is the word of these unnamed sources -- who do seem to be in Amber Heard's corner -- plus Johnny Depp's attorney -- who is clearly in Depp's corner.
Whatever the truth of this short-lived but apparently never-ending marriage, it's still not over yet. Johnny Depp's lawyer has issued subpoenas to Amber Heard, "her hoax assisting friends, Elon Musk and other witnesses" to explain the evidence they plan to show on their end.
Fantastic Beasts 3 was meant to start filming this summer, but production was delayed to fall 2019 to give the film more prep time. According to Dan Fogler (Jacob) the third movie is going to be "gigantic" and "bigger than the first two combined," including travel to Brazil.
The last we heard about Fantastic Beasts 3 was last month from the now ousted Kevin Tsujihara, who acknowledged that the second film -- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- didn’t perform as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, "but I think we know what we need to do to get the third film hopefully even better than the first one. And J.K. Rowling is really working hard now on that third script, and we’re going to get it right."