Straight out of the you can't make this s**t up category comes this startling bit of news: According to The Hollywood Reporter, superstar actor Johnny Depp has just dropped out of the upcoming Whitey Bulger biopic "Black Mass" after producers asked him to take a 50 percent pay cut.
At least, that's the official reason for his departure. We're betting he just couldn't find the right goofy hat for the role.
Seriously, though, it's pretty crazy to think that someone would ask Depp to cut his salary in half. Not that we're talking chump change here; after all, even half of Depp's usual fee of $20 million can buy you a lot of blue tinted sunglasses. But considering Depp is one of the most bankable actors in the world, having appeared in movies that have raked in nearly $3 billion worldwide, he's as close as you can get to a safe bet in Hollywood.
So why did the producers behind "Black Mass" ask Depp to trim $10 million off his salary? Well, apparently it's because the Barry Levinson-directed story about how Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger used his FBI contacts to conduct a reign of terror just wasn't generating enough buzz at the Cannes Film Festival, where "Black Mass" was being shopped around for pre-sales to studios.
That meant trimming costs, and with a full third of the movie's $60 million budget tied up in Depp, the writing was on the wall. Now, of course, the writing is on the wall for "Black Mass" as a whole; without Depp on board, it's unclear whether recently signed co-star Joel Edgerton will stick around — or whether they'll be able to get funding at all for the project. And the situation for "Black Mass" is even more precarious thanks to the fact that Boston natives Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are working on their own Whitey Bulger movie as well, which could now beat "Black Mass" into theaters thanks to this delay.
And Depp? Well, between "The Lone Ranger" coming out in July and 2015's "Pirates of the Caribbean 5," we'll think he'll do just fine for himself. After all, even in Hollywood, it's just not that easy to find a star who can pull off wearing a dead bird on his head. That's got to be worth $20 million to someone.