And that's the case of the Whitey Bulger biopic "Black Mass," as the Barry Levinson film headed to Cannes to try and drum up sales in advance of its planned shoot this summer, just to find out that not many people were interested in buying a non-Jack Sparrow Johnny Depp movie. Perhaps that's because audiences don't care anymore about a non-Jack Sparrow Johnny Depp movie, as his last indie flick, "The Rum Diary," took in only a paltry $23 million. Either way, given the reception in Cannes, producers of "Black Mass" were trying to find ways to shrink the already small $60 million budget, and asked Depp if he would reduce his $20 million salary by half. (Quick math: Depp's salary was a third of the budget). He refused and bailed on the movie altogether. Depp cannot live on $10 million. (In another, purely coincidental news, "Pirates Of The Caribbean 5" just got some new directors).
So now, the film is looking for a new lead actor, and hoping to retain Joel Edgerton who signed up a couple of weeks ago. All this to say, this probably good news for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who have been developing their own Whitey Bulger movie. Getting Depp out of the way as competition will certainly help those efforts, and we'll see if "Black Mass" can even survive with a major A-list star walking away. [THR]