Johnny Depp is still currently expected to continue as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3 and the rest of the planned five-film franchise. However, on the heels of Warner Bros. delaying Fantastic Beasts 3 production again, but finally giving the movie a confirmed release date, word has come that Depp has yet to officially sign on for the 2021 movie.
This is one of those anonymous source situations, so stay in a skeptical Hermione mindset. That said, "a source close to Johnny Depp" told The Blast the actor has not been approached by the studio yet to exercise the option in his contract for Fantastic Beasts 3. The site said Depp does have a contract through the five-film franchise but, like the rest of the stars, his option for each movie is handled separately by Warner Bros.
What does that mean? Maybe nothing, especially without knowing the situations of the other main cast members. But The Blast also brought up Johnny Depp's legal issues -- specifically the ugly back-and-forth abuse allegations with ex-wife Amber Heard. The site said it too had been told a few Warner Bros. execs were pushing for Depp to be fired from Fantastic Beasts, but many of the "heavy hitters" have maintained full support.
One of those heavy hitters is said to be J.K. Rowling herself, and the Harry Potter author already made it clear before The Crimes of Grindelwald came out that she was fully supportive of Johnny Depp.
The very public issues between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have been going on so long that his casting was put up for debate even before the second film came out. Now here we are waiting for the third film, and the ongoing lawsuits keep adding new allegations from both sides.
Johnny Depp has a defamation suit against Amber Heard tied to her Washington Post op-ed piece on speaking up against sexual violence. He claims her abuse allegations are part of an "elaborate hoax" to boost her career. His team is also trying to tie that op-ed to Depp losing his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in future Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Amber Heard's side accused Depp of trying to get her fired from her role as Mera in DC/Warner Bros.'s Aquaman.
Fantastic Beasts 3 was originally set to begin production this summer, with a hoped-for but not official release date of November 2020. Production was initially pushed back to late fall 2019. Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski) said filming was delayed because the third movie is "bigger than the first two combined." The "gigantic" movie needed more time to prep, and they didn't want to rush anything.
Just recently, filming was pushed back to start in spring 2020, with the film getting an official release date of November 2021. The first two films were released in November 2016 and November 2018, respectively.
J.K. Rowling is writing all five movies in this franchise; she is said to currently be re-working the third movie's script to try and make it better than Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald after the relative disappointment of the second movie with fans, critics, and the box office.
As far as we know, Johnny Depp and the rest of the cast will continue in their roles from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. If that changes due to contracts or other issues, you can bet there will be big reactions from every side of the fandom. The third film's title has yet to be revealed, but here's what we do know so far about Fantastic Beasts 3.