Johnny Depp will receive his full salary for Fantastic Beasts 3, despite being asked to resign from the project. On Saturday, Depp revealed that Warner Bros. had asked him to resign from the Harry Potter spinoff film, and that he had "respected and agreed to that request." Insiders have now told The Hollywood Reporter that the studio will need to pay Depp his full eight-figure salary anyway.
Depp had reportedly shot just one scene for Fantastic Beasts 3, which will now be unusable since he is out of the rest of the movie. The sources said that Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich decided to ask Depp to step down because of his highly public court battles with his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Depp recently lost a libel lawsuit against The Sun newspaper for reporting that he had physically abused Heard, and Emmerich apparently feared that this would only bring more bad press in the months and years to come. He asked Depp to resign from the movie in spite of the fact that it would cost the studio millions of dollars.
The payday for Depp is thanks to a "pay-or-play" contract, a common arrangement for A-list movie stars. It ensures that Depp will be fully compensated for the movie regardless of whether the movie is finished, whether it makes the expected amount of profit or even whether Depp is recast or not. There was reportedly no "morality clause" in this contract, leaving Warner Bros. no recourse but to pay him.
Emmerich may have also decided to drop Depp because his legal battle is far from over. Depp has now lost his lawsuit against The Sun, and he previously paid a settlement to Heard in their divorce. He still has an open defamation lawsuit against Heard herself in Virginia, over an op-ed that Heard wrote for The Washington Post about her experience as an abuse survivor. Heard has, in turn, counter-sued Depp for harassment, believing he helped orchestrate much of the fan outcry against her.
In all these cases, Depp has presented evidence claiming not only that he did not abuse Heard, but that she abused him. This was not enough for sway the London case against The Sun, where a judge ruled that, whatever Heard may have done, at least 12 "alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp... have been proved to the civil standard."
So far, it is not clear whether Depp will be recast in Fantastic Beasts 3, and if so with whom. The future of the project itself is not clear, given the mixed commercial and critical success of the first two installments. The movie is currently in production in the U.K.