It has been a turbulent two years for actor Johnny Depp. At once the shining star of a mammoth Disney franchise and the new evil villain in The Wizarding World, Depp’s career plummeted after he lost his libel trial and subsequent appeal in relation to the ongoing abuse allegation from his ex-wife, DC star, Amber Heard.
His 2020 movie, Minamata, was no exception, after a release in various international markets, MGM halted releasing the movie domestically, leading to call-outs from the cast and crew. Now, that has all changed.
Depp and Heard’s ongoing legal battle is one of the most publicized in recent times. Linked to a variety of allegations spanning the former couple’s relationship, multiple lawsuits have been actioned by both parties. From libel trials against British tabloid, The Sun to multi-million dollar defamation lawsuits, and LAPD and FBI probes, Depp and Heard’s next time in court will be in 2022.
It is in Fairfax County in April next year where the Pirates of the Caribbean star and the Aquaman (2018) actress will contest the defamation suit — Depp sued Heard for $50 million following her OpEd in The Washington Post where she detailed herself as a victim of domestic violence, something which Depp has continuously denied.
With his loss of appeal against the libel case ruling from Judge Andrew Nicol in April 2021 following a trial based on The Sun‘s use of the term “wife-beater”, Depp is most likely out of his beloved Pirates of the Caribbean franchise even with support from former partner’s Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder. He has, of course, already resigned from his role as Dumbledore’s arch-nemesis, Gellert Grindelwald in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts. Mads Mikkelsen will replace Depp in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts franchise.
This all brings us to Minamata. Based on the true story of W. Eugene Smith — portrayed by Depp –, the film follows the acclaimed photographer as he travels to Japan to document the effects of mercury poisoning on citizens in the 1970s. Minamata found its debut in Europe at the Berlin Film Festival last year but its release in domestic theaters was shuttered.
Originally meant to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Deadline exclusively reveals that another movie studio is now taking the reins of Depp’s next feature film:
Iervolino and Lady Bacardi Entertainment (ILBE) are now teaming up with Samuel Goldwyn Films to give the movie a North American release in theaters beginning December 15. The platformed release is due to extend across U.S. and Canada into 2022 and the team are looking to position it for awards consideration.
Earlier this year, director Andrew Levitas issued a complaint to MGM and stated that due to Depp’s ongoing lawsuits with Heard, the studio was holding off from releasing Minamata, using the term “burying” to describe their actions. The Edward Scissorhands actor spoke on the matter back in August when he said that he was being “boycotted” by Hollywood. The Minamata release problems come amid the ongoing legal battle with his Hollywood actress ex-wife, and Depp’s win of the Donostia Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
The accolade came with polarizing opinions with female Spanish filmmakers decrying the prestigious title due to Heard’s abuse allegations against the movie star. Despite being bestowed the lifetime achievement award, Depp spoke out about cancel culture, claiming “no one is safe”.
After speaking with Levitas, who also wrote and produced the film, Deadline goes on to report the director’s further comments:
“I am thrilled that North American audiences will finally be able to learn about what happened and continues to happen in Minamata and around the world. The silencing of marginalized voices and those left behind (as well artists) by large corporate behemoths has to end, and with new like-minded partners this story will finally come to light in North America and hopefully offer some peace to the victims and their families who have been put through far too much.”
ILBE previously worked with Depp on the 2019 movie Waiting for the Barbarians, which they released with Samuel Goldwyn also.
Minamata‘s forthcoming release in the United States is sure to be good news for all those involved. Joining Depp in Minamata is Katherine Jenkins (Millie), Bill Nighy (Robert Hayes), and Akiko Iwase (Masako Matsumura), among others.
As for Depp, the actor recently won in court and will be allowed access to Heard’s phone records in relation to the investigation of alleged fabricated photographs concerning her abuse injuries. As well as this, Judge Penney Azcarate ruled in favor of the Captain Jack Sparrow actor and shut down Heard’s lawyers in their repeated attempts to have the defamation suit thrown out of court, much to the joy of Depp’s lawyer.
Heard will next star in director James Wan’s DC Extended Universe movie, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2022). Despite trends like #FireAmberHeard and #JusticeForJohnnyDepp dominating social media, producer Peter Safran said Heard’s role in the Aquaman sequel was never called into question with one co-star also stating she was a “class act”.
Will you be seeing Johnny Depp’s Minamata in theaters this December? Let us know in the comments down below!