Johnny Depp Departs Levinson's Whitey Bulger Biopic 'Black Mass'
Hot on the heels of news that Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer had chosen Kon-Tiki directing duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg to be at the helm of Pirates of the Caribbean 5, it appears the actor isn't happy with developments on another project. THR has word that Depp is leaving the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass from Rain Man director Barry Levinson, the film he was supposed to shoot immediately after finishing Wally Pfister's Transcendence (shooting right now) and before moving on to Disney's high seas sequel. So what caused the actor to leave the film this late in the game? More below!
Supposedly the sale of the film at Cannes was a little softer than anticipated, and producers were looking to trim the high $60 million budget. Since Depp was being paid his $20 million quote (which is about two-thirds of the budget), the actor was asked to cut his pay to half that. But Depp and his representatives refused and have decided to leave the project behind. Now we can scoff at Depp's choice to not take less money ($10 million isn't a bad payday), but considering the placement of this project right in the middle of two other films so quickly, he would likely be busting his ass for this performance. It's a tough blow to the project, but hopefully Joel Edgerton sticks around as a disgraced FBI agent.
Cross Creek and Exclusive Media are using the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, written by former Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. Fresh screenwriter Mark Mallouk just recently completed an entirely new screenplay based on the book after Bulger, who was on the FBI's Most Wanted list for over 10 years, was captured in June of 2011. The true story follows Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. However, after the Feds closed in on their targets, they double crossed Bulger and ultimately prosecuted him, along with his partner in crime and the original FBI agent working with him. Stay tuned.