Home Movies Johnny Depp's shelved Notorious B.I.G. movie gets a reprieve

Johnny Depp’s shelved Notorious B.I.G. movie gets a reprieve


Johnny Depp might be uncanceled.

His long-shelved gangster rap thriller “City of Lies” is finally set for release nearly three years after it hit the can — and his tumultuous personal life went on trial in an ugly court battle with his ex Amber Heard.

A trailer for the troubled film dropped Wednesday night. The action revolves around LAPD detectives Russell Poole (Depp) and Jack Jackson (Forest Whitaker) as they investigate the unsolved murders of rap legends Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur amid the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop feuds of the late 1990s.

“City of Lies” is finally hitting US cinemas on March 19, and will start streaming on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD) on April 9. The Saban Films release follows on the heels of the acclaimed Netflix documentary “Biggie: I Got a Story To Tell,” which hypnotized viewers when it premiered earlier this month.

The stalled production, originally titled “LAbyrinth,” was pulled from the release calendar in August 2018 after a lawsuit emerged involving the film’s location manager, Gregg “Rocky” Brooks. Brooks sued the actor for alleged on-set assault. (Depp, 57, vigorously denied the allegation — but the lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in 2021.)

The film’s wide release reprieve is a positive development for Depp — but it remains to be seen if this long-forgotten indie flick can truly salvage his “toxic” career after years of nasty gossip, accusations of domestic violence and legal battles with Heard, 34.

“He’s just never been told no for the past 35 years,” an unnamed producer who recently worked with the actor told The Hollywood Reporter in December. “That’s typical in Hollywood. But I’ve never seen it to this extent.”

Depp’s latest release has a similarly embattled reputation: In September 2018, a bank sued Global Road, the then-distributor of “City of Lies,” for $10 million after the movie lost its 2018 release date, Page Six reported at the time.

Johnny Depp in the long-delayed "City of Lies," a drama about the real-life murders of hip-hop icons Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
Johnny Depp in a scene from the long-delayed “City of Lies,” a drama about the real-life murders of hip-hop icons Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
Saban Films

As part of the legal battle, Israeli-based Bank Leumi filed papers in California federal court in September 2108 against Global Road, alleging it and Miramax (which owned TV rights) owed the bank millions in guaranteed payments.

According to court documents, Miramax alleged that “no payment is due,” because there were “significant problems with the production [that] have significantly devalued [the film], including . . . the highly publicized alleged off-screen conduct of Johnny Depp, as well as a lawsuit filed against Mr. Depp and the production because he allegedly physically attacked a crew member on the set.”

The bank also argued that “the real reason” the film was shelved is because Global Road is “in financial distress and decided not to pay [$10 million] of marketing and distribution expenses” that were contractually guaranteed.

The film did eventually receive a limited release in Italy back in January 2019, according to Deadline.

Meanwhile, when “City of Lies” finally opens next week, viewers can look for Voletta Wallace, the real-life mother of Brooklyn-born Biggie Smalls (aka Christopher Wallace), who reportedly cameos as herself in the film. Director Brad Furman (“The Lincoln Lawyer”) helmed the long-languishing biopic, which is based on a true crime potboiler by ex-LAPD officer Randall Sullivan.

Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker
Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker are featured in the original 2018 promotional poster for “City of Lies.”
Everett Collection / Saban Films



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