It seems that Johnny Depp’s busy schedule may be getting a bit lighter, but it’s a blow to the Cross Creek Pictures/Exclusive Media project Black Mass. Depp, who has long been attached to the project, is reportedly out of the project after contract negotiations fell through. He was set to play Whitey Bulger, Irish mob boss in the true story of how Bulger worked with childhood friend-become-FBI agent Jack Connolley to take down the Italian mafia in Boston in the 1970s. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the dispute arose after weak Cannes sales made the film’s producers rethink the budget and asked Depp to take less than his usual fee.
Depp certainly won’t be hurting for the money if he doesn’t come back around to an agreement for Black Mass; without question, he’s one of the most marketable and sought after actors in Hollywood. In addition to Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, which is filming now, Depp is committed to Pirates 5, fairy tale mashup Into the Woods, Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) next project The Night Stalker, and is attached to produce and/or star in a number of films still early in development.
The saving grace for Black Mass may be the recent attachment of Joel Edgerton to play FBI agent Jack Connolley. Though reviews for The Great Gatsby have been less than stellar, Edgerton’s performance has generally been praised. Both Gatsby and Warrior, Edgerton’s breakout role, have signaled his arrival as an actor who can help anchor a movie. Additionally, director Barry Levinson is the sort of of industry stalwart that should help the production stay on track and bring in a suitable replacement for Depp. No names have been mentioned yet, however, as the producers are likely hoping a deal can still be reached with Depp.