Depp in play as strike delays two films

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STRIKE ZONE: LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES

Johnny Depp is the latest A-lister to fall victim to the WGA strike.

The actor was scheduled to film "Shantaram" -- Warner Bros. and Initial Entertainment Group's adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel -- in the winter, but that project has been postponed.

Among the reasons the film has been delayed is that the script was not in the shape the filmmakers wanted; the current strike prohibits any revisions.

Budgetary concerns also were a factor. Sources said "Shantaram's" budget was heading north of $75 million, outside the studio's comfort zone for the drama set in India and Afghanistan.

The story revolves around an Australian heroin addict convicted of robbery who escapes from a maximum-security prison, flees to India and reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of Bombay. He gets involved in counterfeiting, smuggling and gunrunning, which leads him to Afghanistan, where he and a mob boss battle the Russians. Eric Roth did the latest script rewrite.

Also put on hold for Depp is "The Rum Diary," an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel for Warner Independent Pictures. Bruce Robinson, whose 1987 comedy "Withnail & I" gained a cult following, was adapting and directing.

"Rum," loosely based on Thompson's experience working as a freelance journalist in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s, is in the development stages. Depp had planned on making the film after "Shantaram."

The latest developments assure that Depp's inbox will be full during the coming weeks. He'll be doing "Sweeney Todd" press junkets in advance of the Dec. 3 premiere in New York.
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