After a lengthy legal battle with his ex-wife, Amber Heard, actor Johnny Depp will be back in a relatively unseen movie this week as Disney streaming service, Hulu, will begin showing Minamata (2020).
Johnny Depp has spent the last few years shunned by the entertainment industry. After Amber Heard, whom he met on the set of The Rum Diary (2011) and later married in 2015, issued a restraining order against her former husband and later claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse in a 2018 Op-Ed published in The Washington Post. The Hollywood actress did not explicitly name Depp, with the article being the foundation of the recent 2022 defamation trial in Fairfax County, Virginia, with Judge Penney Azcarate presiding.
But, it was Justice Andrew Nicol’s verdict almost two years ago that would derail Depp’s career. The Captain Jack Sparrow star went against British tabloid, The Sun, and executive editor Dan Wootton, in 2020, for naming him a “wife-beater”.
Depp lost the libel trial, with Mr Nicol finding multiple allegations of domestic abuse “substantially true”. The verdict at the London High Court left Depp ousted from his role as the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff, the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
It also seemingly confirmed that he would never return to play his beloved Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Despite the ruling, evidence stacked against Heard paved the way for #JusticeForJohnnyDepp and #FireAmberHeard to ignite online.
While Depp was shut out of his blockbuster franchises, the actor hasn’t shied away from the spotlight — in fact, quite the opposite. Last year, Depp received the prestigious Donostia Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival, while denouncing cancel culture, and later had an audience with controversial Serbian leader, President Aleksandar Vučić, who bestowed upon him a medal of merit. It was in the latter, that Depp spoke out about needing the change in light of the domestic abuse controversy.
In terms of filmography, Depp’s most notable work since leaving both The Walt Disney Company’s Pirates franchise and Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts has been as photographer W. Eugene Smith in Minamata from director Andrew Levitas.
Despite coming out in 2020, Depp’s movie only received a United States domestic release at the end of 2021, and even then the distribution of Minamata was desperately small. During Depp’s legal turmoil last year, Levitas spoke out about the dismissal of Minamata, saying studios were basing their decision on the personal life of its leading actor rather than on the merits of the film itself.
However, that seems to be changing. In a new press release, it can be seen that the Disney service, Hulu, has nabbed the streaming rights and will begin showing Minamata from July 8.
The release reads:
Three-time Academy Award® nominee Johnny Depp plays celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith in a real life David vs Goliath story, pitting Smith against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning the people of Minamata, Japan in 1971.
(Streaming Friday, July 8)
The streaming release of Minamata comes just a few months after the movie came third in the top 5 #OscarsFanFavorite at the 94th Academy Awards.
While it is only a small move, the impact this could have is potentially massive. At a time when fans are gunning for Depp’s reinstatement as Jack Sparrow, shunning the confirmed Margot Robbie Pirates 6, and calling for a public apology to be issued, it may mean the ties between Depp and The Walt Disney Company are not as brittle as once thought; that the outcome of the domestic violence defamation trial, which saw Depp — led by his lawyers Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez — awarded over $10 million after the jury found Heard guilty of defamation, maybe a lifeline for his once-doomed career.
However, while some may see this as a glimmer of Depp’s career return, it would be remiss not to forget that Heard was also awarded $2 million in the defamation case after Depp was found to have defamed the DC Extended Universe star.
As the waves of the highly-publicized trial begin to simmer, fans of the Pirates star will surely be keeping an eye on this actor’s potential comeback.
Do you think that Minamata‘s Hulu release means anything? Let us know in the comments down below!