Johnny Depp Drama Has WB Execs "Freaking Out" Over 'Fantastic Beasts 3'

Earlier this year Johnny Depp, who plays dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, filed a defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, claiming that her domestic abuse allegations were nothing more than an elaborate hoax. In response, Heard has filed papers detailing numerous alleged instances of abuse. Now, in the wake of the ongoing drama Warner Bros. is reportedly "freaking out" bout the Harry Potter movie franchise's connection to the actor.

According to Page Six, a source claims that studio executives are "extremely worried" about continuing to work with Depp and what message that sends to the public so close on the heels of CEO Kevin Tsujihara's departure following a sexual misconduct scandal.

"Executives at Warner Bros. are wondering how to deal with the backlash of the Depp matter on the Harry Potter franchise," the source is quoted as saying. "High-level female execs at the studio are extremely worried about working with Depp and the message it sends to the public, especially after the recent sordid departure of CEO Kevin Tsujihara. This is yet another blow to the morale of female employees at the studio. If Warner Bros. continues to stick by Depp, it would reveal a lot about the values the company holds."

The abuse allegations against Depp first surfaced in 2016 after Heard filed for divorce followed by a restraining order against him. Later, news broke that Depp had been cast in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It was a move that was met with quite a bit of controversy by fans, but Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has been very strongly supportive of Depp's casting -- and according to Page Six's source, it's something that executives at Warner Bros. feel have created an issue for them.

"Many at Warner Bros. wish that Rowling hadn't come out so strongly behind Depp, because having made her opinion so public boxes the into a corner," the source said.

Depp is currently set to return as Grindelwald for Fantastic Beasts 3, though it's currently not clear exactly when the film will enter production. The film was originally set to begin filming in July, but earlier this year production was pushed back to late autumn, allowing for more time due to the size of the film.

“Yeah, we start in the fall. The movie is going to be gigantic,” Dan Fogler, who will return as Jacob Kowalski, said in a previous interview. “The reason we were given is that the movie is bigger than the first two combined. They needed more time to prep and they didn’t want to rush anything, so they pushed it back. I can tell you that we are going to Brazil. I don’t really know much… [laughs]. I’ll get a script closer to when we start shooting.”

The third Fantastic Beasts film is expected to debut in theaters November 20, 2020.

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