The future for Johnny Depp in Hollywood remains unclear at this point. While there have been recent signs that his career might bounce back at some point, he continues to be without much in the way of major casting news in the short term. And adding to that, movies that he’s already made are effectively buried right now, thanks to a very bad year-plus for the actor in the headlines. Now, Deadline is reporting that one of his already-filmed movies isn’t going to see the light of day because of Depp’s association with the film.
The news about this Johnny Depp movie comes from the director of Minamata, a film about the effects of mercury poisoning in the titular Japanese town because of corporate negligence around production in the area. Depp plays photojournalist Eugene Smith in the movie which is based on a true story. But despite the flick being filmed more than a year ago, and having been completed, it has no release date in the United States. It doesn’t look like it will ever be shown.
The director of Minamata, Andrew Levitas has reached out to the studio, MGM, questioning why the flick hasn’t been released at this point despite having been originally screened all the way back in February 2020 at the Berlin International Film Festival. Even with Covid concerns around theater openings, this kind of timeline would appear way too long for a movie of this size. In Levitas’s letter, he says that the studio told him they were going to “bury” the film because of Johnny Depp and his persona non grata status in Hollywood right now.
In his defense, Levitas makes the argument that the topic of the film, the devastating effects of mercury poisoning in Minamata because of the Chisso Corporation’s negligence should be tantamount in the release plans, not the status of the movie’s star. Levitas, in his letter, also included pictures of the toll this poisoning took on the local population, something originally documented in Life magazine by Smith.
That being said, even a letter from Levitas and the idea that subject matter should trump negative star publicity is unlikely to make MGM and company reverse course here. Such is the state of affairs with Johnny Depp at this point in Hollywood circles. Following the highly-publicized court case from last summer, in which Depp sued the British tabloid The Sun for libel, the actor found himself on the outside looking in when it came to new projects. The details of the case were grimy with the tabloid originally calling the actor a “wife-beater” and then needing to back up their claims in open court. They ultimately won the case.
For Johnny Depp, the fallout was swift. He was fired from his role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as a cameo in the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot. He’s failed to land a meaningful gig since. What ends up happening with Minamata remains to be seen, but it’s not looking good for its chances. It’s a shame considering the subject matter and one has to side with Levitas here around the studio’s reasoning for shuttering the project.