Why Fantastic Beasts 3 May Have Cut Ties With Johnny Depp Years After Initial Amber Heard Allegations

It’s been a week filled with Johnny Depp brouhaha. First, news came down the pipeline that the Fantastic Beasts 3 actor had lost his libel court case with The Sun. Then Depp himself broke the news that Warner Bros. had asked him to step down from the franchise. The actor’s history with his ex Amber Heard has been playing out publicly for years, so why now?

The history of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s former marriage has featured a lot of twists, turns and allegations. One notable point came when Amber Heard wrote about an abusive relationship in an Op Ed that ran in the Washington Post. It didn’t directly claim her abuser was Depp, but he’s sued in Virginia about that piece, a case which has come with some major lawyer back and forth.

Then, a separate libel case in which The Sun alleged Johnny Depp was a "wife beater" played out extremely publicly. Johnny Depp had filed the suit originally in the pursuit of clearing his name. Instead, the court case featured back-and-forth stories from both Depp and Heard. In one infamous example, Depp claimed Amber Heard pooped in their bed. Heard claimed it was the dogs. Some of these stories have been around for years, yet it was only after the verdict came down in favor of The Sun that Johnny Depp was asked to step down from playing Grindelwald.

As part of a report based around Johnny Depp’s exit from Fantastic Beasts 3, Variety mentions one factor that may have greatly affected the recent change in the franchise. If you’ve been paying attention, you may already know that behemoth company AT&T merged with Time Warner (which owns Warner Bros.) last year. A source told the outlet that one of the major changes that came with the merger was a no-tolerance policy in regards to controversy.

The idea being, with a new team in place, led by new CEO Jason Kilar and studio chief Ann Sarnoff, the tolerance for controversial stars like Johnny Depp that is a trademark of Hollywood productions may have worn off. This is a marked change. Three years ago, J.K. Rowling said she supported and felt comfortable with Depp staying in the franchise. This time around, she reportedly signed off on the decision to let the actor go.

Fantastic Beasts 3 was already well into the throes of moving forward. In fact, Johnny Depp had already filmed one scene as Grindelwald when he stepped down. This meant Warner Bros. has had to move quickly to find a replacement and they may have landed one in Mads Mikkelson, despite fans seemingly hoping for Colin Farrell to come back. (He’s currently filming The Batman.) Everything’s as weird in the magical world as it seems to be in the muggle world right now, but we’ll keep you updated as Fantastic Beasts 3 continues to move forward.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.