Depp will receive a mammoth payday for the role, $20 million against 15 percent of the gross, sources say.
Plot details have been closely guarded, but sources describe the film as in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Inception.
The story centers on a man who creates a computer that develops a malevolent awareness. Depp will play a husband who gets sucked into the computer, contingent on changes Pfister is making to the script, sources say.
Pfister has met with and likes Noomi Rapace as the film’s female lead and is considering James McAvoy and Tobey Maguire for other male lead. Oscar winner Christoph Waltz has an offer for a supporting role.
Principal photography is set to begin early next year, with Warner Bros. on board as the film’s distributor.
The screenplay, written by newcomer Jack Paglen, was developed by Annie Marter and Straight Up Films, whose company principals include Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Regency Boies. Polvino, Marter and Cohen will produce along with David Valdes (Book of Eli), Johnson and Kosove. Boies will co-produce. Pfister’s longtime collaborator Christopher Nolan is executive producing with wife Emma Thomas.
“I’m thrilled and feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Johnny,” Pfister said. “He is a creative and intelligent artist whom I feel will bring great depth to the character and the overall narrative.”
Depp is repped by UTA.