The Hollywood Reporter said Thursday that Depp, 49 -- who was announced in February to star in the crime thriller by director Barry Levinson -- exited after being asked to accept half his standard quote of $20 million. The trade magazine said this was part of a budget cut for the estimated $65 million to $70 million film following lower-than-expected sales of the movie internationally at the Cannes Film Festival. A production source disputed this, telling the Reporter sales were in the projected range.
UTA, the talent agency representing both the star and the director, had no comment. The film is based on Dick Lehr and Gerald O'Neill's 2001 bestseller "Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob."
Depp, who plays sidekick Tonto in director Gore Verbinski's Western "The Lone Ranger," opening July 3, is currently shooting "Transcendence," a science-fiction thriller marking the directorial debut of "Inception" Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. It is scheduled for release next year.
Actor-director Ben Affleck has a separate Bulger film project, written by Terrence Winter, creator of "Boardwalk Empire," with Matt Damon in the starring role. That movie's development status is currently uncertain.