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Johnny Depp exits Fantastic Beasts film series, third film now delayed to summer 2022

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Nov 6, 2020, 11:51 AM EST

Johnny Depp is set to exit the Fantastic Beasts franchise in the wake of lingering allegations of domestic abuse. The actor played the title character in 2018's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Recent developments in the legal dispute between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard have changed the franchise's association with Depp — and he's now exited the film series.

On Nov. 2, Depp lost a libel case in which he was suing the Sun newspaper for calling him a "wife beater" and alleging that he had assaulted Heard. The court reportedly found the Sun's allegations were "substantially true" and, since accurate, not libel.

In the wake of the developments, on Friday morning Depp posted a statement on his Instagram announcing his exit from the Fantastic Beasts franchise:

"I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request," Depp wrote. The actor continued by reiterating his claim that "the allegations against [him] are false," vowing that his "life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."

Variety reports Depp's role will be recast in the film series, a problem which will push the third and untitled Fantastic Beasts film, which resumed production back in September, to July 15, 2022. That bumps it off the calendar from its previous date of Nov. 12, 2021.