With the delay of Fantastic Beasts 3 and the announcement of Johnny Depp's departure as Grindelwald from the cast, Harry Potter fans are eager to find out just what's going on in the cinematic Wizarding World. Depp revealed on social media that he had been asked to step down from his role by Warner Bros. Pictures, adding that he intends to continue fighting his ongoing legal battles stemming from his divorce and domestic dispute with Amber Heard. Now Warner Bros. has issued a statement about Depp's departure, explaining their decision while also holding to the idea that fans will enjoy Fantastic Beasts 3 when it premieres in theaters.
"Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date. Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theaters worldwide in the summer of 2022," said Warner Bros.' statement.
The move came as somewhat of a shock, especially after Depp's ongoing legal issues have dominated the public discourse when it comes to the actor's career. After his appearance at the end of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, many fans criticized the film for including him and making him a bigger part of the sequel. But franchise creator and screenwriter J.K. Rowling stood by in her support of Depp and his role in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
"When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he'd be wonderful in the role," Rowling said. "However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise."
She went on to add, "For me personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating, and at times painful. However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies."
Rowling herself has come under fire for transphobic comments and has staunchly stood behind her words, even if she's received some criticism from Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne. However Warner Bros. continues to work with Rowling, even if Depp is now gone from the franchise.
Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently scheduled to release in theaters in 2022.