Who would have thought that a biopic of a violent Boston mobster would get so very complicated, so very quickly? Last week it was reported that Johnny Depp was out of Black Mass, the Whitey Bulger biopic, when Cross Creek Pictures asked him to take a 50% paycut due to a new budget. Now it’s getting even more complicated.
Rumors are swirling about this one, but here are some of the claims. Cross Creek closed a deal with Depp to the tune of his usual $20 million pay grade. The company is now saying that that deal was contingent on the budget coming in at $50 million. Now it turns out that the projected budget is more like $63 million – which presumably the company does not have – so everyone, including director Barry Levinson and co-star Joel Edgerton, has been asked to take a pay cut in order to trim the excess. Then Depp took a powder.
There seems to be more going on than meets the eye, as a number of people attached to the production seem to be surprised that Depp left so suddenly. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the question seems to be about whether the deal with Depp was closed before the film went to market, or after. If before, than he’s perfectly within his rights to ask that Cross Creek adhere to the original contract … and it makes sense that he would leave over the salary.
The bottom line is that it’s now highly unlikely that Depp will return to Black Mass, although the producers are still holding out hope.
I have a bit more sympathy for Mr. Depp now. He often taken pay cuts for projects he believes in – including the upcoming Into The Woods – so perhaps Black Mass is not as attractive a part for him as it sounds. I kind of hope they work everything out, though. I want to see Johnny in a serious role once more.