Articles from May 2013

Johnny Depp exits Barry Levinson’s BLACK MASS

Johnny Depp won’t be playing Boston gangster Whitey Bulger after all; multiple sources report that the deal for Johnny to star in Barry Levinson’s Black Mass fell apart on Wednesday due to budget-cutting. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnny agreed to play the role at his usual quote of $20 million, but when the producers “were looking to trim the budget, in the high $60 million range,” Johnny was asked to cut his salary in half, “and the actor and his reps at UTA refused.” A Black Mass producer is disputing a widely-reported media claim that sales of the project at Cannes were “on the soft side,” necessitating the budget cuts, claiming instead that the sales “were on target and that most territories were sold.”

Black Mass was set to begin shooting on August 5, 2013 in Boston; now it appears that Johnny will segue from Wally Pfister’s Transcendence (due to shoot into July) into Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods.

The Zone thanks Lou Lou 63 and Emma for breaking the news; you can read more on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Hollywood Reporter article is available HERE.

KON-TIKI’s Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg to direct PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 5

The Kon-Tiki directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg will take the helm for Pirates of the Caribbean 5! Deadline Hollywood reports that Disney, Johnny Depp (who will return as Captain Jack Sparrow) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer “have all signed off on the choice, and negotiations are underway on a deal that will make quickly. The duo will come aboard to prep the massive movie for a late year or early January start.”

Rønning and Sandberg have a proven track record for dealing with the complications that ensue when a film shoots on water; their Kon-Tiki, a recreation of Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947, received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Also, as Deadline’s Mike Fleming notes, “They made a lot of movie with a little money.” That ability to combine fiscal prudence with critical and popular success will endear the directing duo to producers everywhere.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5, with a script by Jeff Nathanson, is scheduled for release on July 10, 2015.

The Zone thanks Lou Lou 63 for breaking the news; you can read more about Pirates of the Caribbean 5 on the Zone’s News & Views forum.
The Deadline Hollywood article is available HERE.

THE LONE RANGER world premiere on June 22 to benefit the American Indian College Fund

The world premiere of Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ The Lone Ranger will take place on Saturday, June 22, at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California. Thousands of visitors will cheer the cast as they walk down a giant red carpet on the Park’s iconic Hollywood Boulevard. Walt Disney Studios Chairman, Alan Horn, also announced today that the premiere will benefit the American Indian College Fund: “We’ve had a terrific collaboration with the Native American community throughout the production of Disney’s The Lone Ranger,” Mr. Horn said. “With the world premiere of this exciting film at hand, we are pleased to commemorate the occasion by supporting the American Indian College Fund.”

Tickets for the premiere event — priced at $1,000 each — have been donated by Disney to the American Indian College Fund, which will offer them for sale to the public; tickets will be available for purchase HERE starting today. Because Disney is also underwriting the entire cost of the premiere, 100% of the revenues received by the American Indian College Fund for the tickets will be used for scholarships and other support for Native American students.

As the Fund President, Cheryl Crazy Bull, explained,”[O]ur scholarships are an investment in a healthier, more prosperous future for tribal students and their families. We are poised to serve over 20,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students attending the tribal colleges across this country. Currently our scholarships serve less than 21% of those students so we appreciate any opportunity to bring resources into our scholarship program.”

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the news; you can read more about The Lone Ranger premiere on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

“Everything you see here is real”–producer Jerry Bruckheimer talks about THE LONE RANGER

In an interview with CNN, producer Jerry Bruckheimer took pains to explain how The Lone Ranger differs from other summer blockbusters that depend heavily on CGI effects for their on-screen thrills. In The Lone Ranger, “Everything is real,” Mr. Bruckheimer said. “Gore [Verbinski, the director] doesn’t like to do it with the visual effects, so those guys are really on the train, the train is actually moving, it’s not a CG shot — so everything you see here is real. So it had to be built. You can’t imagine how many people it takes just to keep the train running; to get the stunt guys to keep the guys on top of the train; the rigging so they’re all safe and the amount of extras [to be] the people in the background; it’s just a lot.”

Mr. Bruckheimer likens the logistics of making The Lone Ranger to “moving an army [across] five states.” But the effort to bring Western authenticity to the screen — even shooting in Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation, the iconic location of so many John Ford films — is worthwhile, he insists, for the experience it will bring the moviegoer. “[Verbinski] makes big movies and that’s what audiences love and that’s why summer movies become blockbusters, because you give them a lot of punch for their 10 or 12 bucks,” he explained. “[We’re] reinventing the tale of the Lone Ranger, but starting with the origin. It’s the origin story, told through Tonto’s point of view, who’s not quite accurate with what he remembers, so it’s a lot of fun.”

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the news; you can read more about The Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The CNN article is available HERE.

The Lone Ranger arrives in movie theaters on July 3, 2013.

Johnny Depp has dinner with Amber Heard and Keith Richards in Los Angeles–new photos!

Taking a break from the New Mexico filming of Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, Johnny Depp had dinner with Amber Heard and Keith Richards at West Hollywood’s Ago restaurant on May 22nd. Photographs taken of the group as they left the restaurant (accompanied by Johnny’s security chief Jerry Judge) are available HERE. Johnny wore jeans, a brown denim jacket, and his favorite tan fedora; Amber wore a white chiffon blouse, an elegant white fringed skirt, and camel shoes.

Earlier in the day, Johnny made a stop at a Los Angeles office building; photos of Johnny with Jerry Judge are available HERE.

The Zone thanks christinaFAN, Lou Lou 63, Evochka, Gilbert’s Girl, and Theresa for sharing photographs. You can read more about Johnny’s visit to Los Angeles on the Pit General Discussion forum.

Great news! The Zone’s 2013 Birthday Project in support of Project Pueblo has raised $2,500!

One of the Zone’s most cherished traditions is our annual birthday gift for Johnny, called the Birthday Project. Each year we choose a charity which is connected to Johnny’s philanthropic interests, pool our modest contributions, and make a Zone donation to a worthy cause in his honor, as a way of celebrating and thanking Johnny for all the joy he has given us over the year. For this year’s project, we are partnering once again with Project Pueblo to bring water systems to Navajo families, and we have now raised more than $2,500!

Photos of Navajo families who received “Johnny Depp water systems” installed by Project Pueblo volunteers after last year’s Birthday Project are available HERE. Imagine never having the convenience of a sink with running water before! But there are still many families who need our help, so we ask you to contribute generously to Project Pueblo in honor of Johnny Depp.

Project Pueblo, our charity partner, is a 100% student and volunteer-led 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that conducts short-term, low-cost service trips to impoverished areas while raising money and awareness for relevant projects and issues. Project Pueblo is currently focusing on improving living conditions for the Navajo people in the area known as the former Bennett Freeze, a 2 million acre region within the Navajo Indian reservation of 8000+ families where only 25% have adequate shelter, only 10% have running water, and only 3% have electricity. In addition, this area heavily suffers from issues relating to uranium contamination stemming from mining during the Cold War. Project Pueblo partners with various organizations including Forgotten People, a grassroots, community-based Navajo nonprofit organization that has been fighting injustice and poverty for over 20 years.

We hope to be able to install several water systems for Navajo families this year. Can you help with this quest?

To donate by Paypal, please use this yellow “Donate” button to link to our 2013 Birthday Project Paypal account:





If you prefer to donate by check, CLICK HERE to visit the Johnny Depp Zone’s Birthday Project forum for the mailing address.

We will be accepting donations through Johnny’s birthday, June 9, 2013. Please join us in saying “Thank you” and “Happy Birthday” to Johnny Depp. Your donation can bring comfort and support to the Navajo people: a gift of clean water is a gift of life itself.

New trailer for THE LONE RANGER released–see it here!

Disney unveiled a new, action-packed trailer for The Lone Ranger today:

The Lone Ranger is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Oscar-winner Gore Verbinski, with cinematography by Bojan Bazelli. The film also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Frain and James Badge Dale. The Lone Ranger opens in U.S. theaters on July 3rd.

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the trailer; you can read much more about The Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Newly discovered ancient scissor-clawed fossil is named after Johnny Depp!

The character Johnny Depp created in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands has already attained cinema immortality; now it has achieved scientific immortality for Johnny as well. A 505-million-year-old fossil discovered recently has been named Kooteninchela deppi because of its scissor-like claws, which reminded the scientist who discovered it of — who else? — Edward Scissorhands and the actor who played him. “When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species, I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands,” the scientist, David Legg, said on the website of London’s Imperial College. “Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film, as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors.”

With charming candor, Legg adds, “In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan, and so what better way to honor the man than to immortalize him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?” As fellow Depp fans, Legg’s choice seems like a perfect tribute to us, since in addition to playing Edward Scissorhands, Johnny has also also achieved cinema immortality for portraying a certain pirate captain, one Jack Sparrow.

When he discovered the fossil, Legg was conducting research into life on Earth during the Cambrian period (when nearly all modern animal types emerged) as part of his PhD program in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London. You can see an image of Kooteninchela deppi HERE. Legg’s research was published in the May 2, 2013 issue of the Journal of Palaeontology.

The Zone congratulates David Legg for his outstanding research and his felicitous choice of name for his discovery. We also thank Theresa for sharing the news; you can read more about Kooteninchela deppi, and see color images of the fossil, on the Zone’s Pit General Discussion forum.

Emily Blunt to join Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep in Disney’s INTO THE WOODS

Seems like Rob Marshall has found the Baker’s Wife for his upcoming film of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods . . . and it’s Emily Blunt! Variety reports that Ms. Blunt is “finalizing a deal” to join the Disney film, where she will reunite with her The Devil Wears Prada co-star, Meryl Streep, who will be playing the Witch. The musical’s storyline follows the Baker (Tony-winner James Corden) and his wife (Blunt) as they venture into the woods to confront the witch (Streep) responsible for putting a family curse on the childless couple.

Other actors who may be joining the cast include Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal, as self-absorbed, competitive brother-princes who are the love interests of Cinderella and Rapunzel, and The Good Wife‘s Christine Baranski, who is in talks to play Cinderella’s nasty stepmother. With Johnny Depp appearing as the Wolf, this cast is dazzling!

The Zone thanks Lou Lou 63 for sharing the news; you can read more about Into the Woods on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp gets a BLACK MASS co-star–THE GREAT GATSBY’s Joel Edgerton

The Great Gatsby‘s Joel Edgerton will play the FBI agent who lures Boston gangster Whitey Bulger (played by Johnny Depp) into becoming an FBI informant in Barry Levinson’s upcoming drama Black Mass. Edgerton will play John Connolly, a childhood friend of Whitey Bulger, who is able to use their bond to persuade Bulger to help the FBI take down a rival Mafia family. However, Connolly later turns on Bulger and prosecutes him, too.

Filming of Black Mass will begin later this year; the film is due in theaters in 2014. Oscar-winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man) will direct, with Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson, Nigel Sinclair, Tobin Armbrust, John Lesher and Infinitum Nihil’s Christi Dembrowski producing.

The Zone thanks Lou Lou 63 and Emma for breaking the news; you can read more about Black Mass on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

INTO THE WOODS cast update–Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine may play singing princes

Rob Marshall’s upcoming film of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical Into the Woods is attracting plenty of talent: Johnny Depp (as the Wolf), Meryl Streep (as the Witch) and James Corden (as the Baker) are already on board, and now Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine are in discussions to join the cast. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Gyllenhaal and Pine “would play the musical’s two princes, Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince, brothers who are pompous and self-absorbed.” Neither Gyllenhaal nor Pine has sung on-screen before, but “the two actors met and even sang for director Rob Marshall for their respective parts and are expected to receive offers to join the star-studded cast.” Fantastic!

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for sharing the news; you can read more about Into the Woods on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Hollywood Reporter article is available HERE.

TRANSCENDENCE, starring Johnny Depp, shifts filming to New Mexico

After filming in the Los Angeles area on Saturday and Sunday, Wally Pfister’s Transcendence moved on to Albuquerque, New Mexico to continue production. A New Mexico Film Office news release has confirmed that Transcendence will be shooting through the end of July “in and around Albuquerque” and will employ more than 2,650 New Mexicans as crew members or actors. New Mexico Film Office spokesperson Angela Heisel confirmed to a local reporter that some filming will take place in Belen, New Mexico, which should be good news for local entrepreneurs. Business will be booming!

Meanwhile, the blogs and Twitter feeds of folks who got to work on Transcendence during its Los Angeles shoot have lit up with praise for Johnny Depp. Sagiv Karpel commented, “I got to work with Johnny Depp today, and… WOW. Not only is he a freakin’ brilliant actor, he is also ridiculously funny, sweet, charming, humble, and kind. Cheers to being very pleasantly surprised!” And Jennifer Beatty tweeted, “Working with Johnny Depp this week has been so inspiring. What a truly kind and humble man. Just another day in Paradise.”

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the news; you can read more about Transcendence on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp goes INTO THE WOODS with Meryl Streep and Tony-winner James Corden

Johnny Depp will get his wolf on for Rob Marshall’s upcoming film of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning fairy-tale themed musical Into the Woods! A Disney casting notice officially confirms that Johnny will play the Wolf, too-many-awards-to-count Meryl Streep will play the Witch, and British actor James Corden will play the leading male role of the Baker. Corden won a Tony last year for his work in Broadway’s One Man, Two Guvnors. The plum role of the Baker’s Wife is yet to be cast, although Disney favorite Amy Adams is rumored to be under consideration.

Rob Marshall, who previously directed Johnny in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and directed the Oscar-winning musical Chicago, will begin filming Into the Woods in London in September.

The Zone thanks Emma, humiliatedgrape, and suedlib for sharing the news. You can read more about Into the Woods on the Zone’s News & Views forum; a Hollywood Reporter article confirming the casting is available HERE.

Johnny Depp films TRANSCENDENCE at California State University, Northridge–new photos!

Wally Pfister’s sci-fi drama Transcendence filmed on the campus of California State University, Northridge this week; the CSUN newspaper, the Daily Sundial, reported that Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman had been seen there. Johnny, accompanied by security chief Jerry Judge, found time to sign autographs for well-wishers after a long day of filming; photos are available HERE. The Zone thanks Evochka for sharing the photos.

In other Transcendence news, the acting ensemble gained a new member today as Josh Stewart joined the cast. Stewart is another veteran of Chrisopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, having played played one of Bane’s main henchmen in The Dark Knight Rises. The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news; you can read more about Transcendence on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

New names on the shortlist of potential directors for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 5

Now that producer Jerry Bruckheimer has The Lone Ranger ready to ride into theaters in July, he and Disney need to choose a director for Pirates of the Caribbean 5, which is scheduled for release on July 10, 2015 and will once again star Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. According to Deadline.com, there are three leading candidates receiving consideration to direct the 5th installment: Fredrik Bond, who recently directed the Shia LaBeouf-starring action comedy The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman; Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, directors of last year’s Oscar-nominated adventure film Kon-Tiki; and Rupert Sanders, best known for Snow White and the Huntsman.

“Given the names here, they’re clearly looking to inject fresh creative energy to the mix,” Deadline’s Mike Fleming suggests. He adds that “no offer has been made yet” but he expects the choice of director to “be locked within the next few weeks.” We’ll keep a sharp eye!

You can read more about Pirates of the Caribbean 5 on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Deadline.com article is available HERE.

TV ALERT–Richard D. Zanuck documentary airs on Turner Classic Movies tonight

The long-awaited documentary on producer Richard D. Zanuck’s amazing career, Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story of Richard D. Zanuck, premieres on Turner Classic Movies tonight, Wednesday, May 8, at 8 p.m. EDT. We heard last year, after Mr. Zanuck’s death, that Johnny had contributed an interview for the documentary. Mr. Zanuck produced several films starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Alice in Wonderland; and Dark Shadows.

After the documentary, TCM will air Driving Miss Daisy, one of Zanuck’s Oscar-winning Best Pictures, followed by a re-airing of Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking (at 11:30 EDT/8:30 PDT).

Johnny Depp mourns the death of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen

The death of special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen yesterday at age 92 brought an outpouring of mingled affection and grief from the film community. Johnny Depp was one of the luminaries contacted by Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher yesterday and asked to comment on Harryhausen’s passing. Johnny responded, “There isn’t anything I can say about Ray Harryhausen that hasn’t been said throughout his brilliant life, suffice to salute that Ray was a band-apart, and will be forever loved for his unique genius, and rightly so. It was an honor to have spent time with him. My thoughts are with his loved ones.”

Harryhausen’s brilliant stop-motion animation created dinosaurs and monsters for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years B.C., The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, and Clash of the Titans (1981 version). His imagination and painstaking craft continues to inspire new generations of fantasy, sci-fi and horror filmmakers to bring their dreams to life.

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing Johnny’s interview; you can read more about Ray Harryhausen’s death on the Zone’s Pit General Discussion forum.

New Johnny Depp interview in OK!MAGAZINE

The May 14 issue of OK! Magazine features a brief Q & A with Johnny Depp conducted during his recent appearance in Las Vegas for CinemaCon. Most of the questions relate to the filming of The Lone Ranger and Johnny’s role as Tonto, but the interviewer also inquires about Johnny’s other professional interests:

Q: You’ve tried your hand a directing before with The Brave, where you also played a Native American — any plans to to get behind the camera again?

JD: Yeah, actually I have been working on a film for about the last four years or so. And we’ve just completed the filming part — and it’s a documentary on Keith Richards.

Q: Will it be similar to the Rolling Stones movie?

JD: Most definitely not [laughs].

Q: You’re playing music on stage more and more — where is music standing for you in your career right now?

JD: Music has always been my first love. It’s what I did since I was a kid and I’ve never stopped. I was making films and things like that, so it wasn’t like I was searching for a second career as a musician again, but one thing lead to another. I was asked to go up on stage with someone, and then some other people saw me on stage and said, “Wow, you can actually play the guitar.”

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the interview; you can read more on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

“Beautiful and very unusual and exciting”–Rebecca Hall talks about TRANSCENDENCE

As Johnny Depp films Wally Pfister’s Transcendence this week, his co-star Rebecca Hall, who plays Evelyn, is doing double-duty: she’s also promoting the blockbuster Iron Man 3, in which she plays Maya Hansen. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ms. Hall said this when asked what was “next” on her busy schedule: “Funnily enough, I’m about to go and start another science-fiction film. Not anywhere in this territory at all,” Hall said, referring to Iron Man 3. “I mean, it couldn’t be further away from this kind of film, but it’s a proper movie with Johnny Depp. It’s called Transcendence.”

And what did Rebecca Hall have to say about this new venture? “It’s really great. I love the script. And Wally Pfister’s directing it, who’s Chris Nolan’s [director of photography], and Chris Nolan’s producing it.” Any plot details? “It’s beautiful and very unusual and exciting, but that’s all I’m going to say about it for now.” Sounds good — and tantalizing . . . .

The Zone thanks Snoopy Dances for sharing the news; you can read more about Transcendence on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The full (and delightful) interview with Rebecca Hall is available HERE.

Announcing the Zone’s 2013 Birthday Project to benefit Project Pueblo!

One of the Zone’s most cherished traditions is our annual birthday gift for Johnny, called the Birthday Project. Each year we choose a charity which is connected to Johnny’s philanthropic interests, pool our modest contributions, and make a Zone donation to a worthy cause in his honor, as a way of celebrating and thanking Johnny for all the joy he has given us over the year. For this year’s project, we are partnering once again with Project Pueblo to bring water systems to Navajo families.

We had such a marvelous experience with Project Pueblo last year that we wanted to support them again. We were able to follow the Project Pueblo volunteers as they traveled to the Navajo reservation to install “Johnny Depp water systems” for several families. Our hearts were deeply moved when we saw the beautiful smiles of our Navajo friends as they used their new sinks for the first time.

But there are still many families who need our help, so we ask you to contribute generously to Project Pueblo in honor of Johnny Depp.

Project Pueblo, our charity partner, is a 100% student and volunteer-led 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that conducts short-term, low-cost service trips to impoverished areas while raising money and awareness for relevant projects and issues. Project Pueblo is currently focusing on improving living conditions for the Navajo people in the area known as the former Bennett Freeze, a 2 million acre region within the Navajo Indian reservation of 8000+ families where only 25% have adequate shelter, only 10% have running water, and only 3% have electricity. In addition, this area heavily suffers from issues relating to uranium contamination stemming from mining during the Cold War. Project Pueblo partners with various organizations including Forgotten People, a grassroots, community-based Navajo nonprofit organization that has been fighting injustice and poverty for over 20 years.

To donate by Paypal, please use this yellow “Donate” button to link to our 2013 Birthday Project Paypal account:





If you prefer to donate by check, CLICK HERE to visit the Johnny Depp Zone’s Birthday Project forum for the mailing address.

We will be accepting donations through Johnny’s birthday, June 9, 2013. Please join us in saying “Thank you” and “Happy Birthday” to Johnny Depp. Your donation can bring comfort and support to the Navajo people: a gift of clean water is a gift of life itself.