Director Insinuates Studio Is Burying New Johnny Depp Movie After Court Case With Amber Heard In New Letter

Johnny Depp in Minamata

Once upon a time Johnny Depp was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And while the Jack Sparrow actor still has an incredibly devoted fan base, the actor has been spending more time in court rooms than in front of movie cameras of late. Depp does have a new movie, the drama Minamata, but it has yet to be released in the U.S. despite the movie debuting at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2020. While there were plans for a release in February of this year, the movie has set to be released in any channels, and the director is now accusing MGM of deciding to "bury" the movie.

Deadline obtained a letter which Minamata director Andrew Levitas has apparently sent to MGM, the studio that acquired the North American rights to the film following its debut in Berlin last year. In it he states that he spoke directly with MGM acquisitions head Sam Wollman and was told in no uncertain terms that the studio planned to "bury the film" and not promote it due to the feeling that Johnny Depp's personal matters could reflect poorly on the studio.

We know that Johnny Depp's legal issues have had an impact on him professionally. It was almost immediately following the verdict against him in a UK libel case that it was announced that Warner Bros. had asked Depp to step down from his role as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Johnny Depp's currently pending defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard is predicated on the idea that the actress' Washington Post op-ed directly led to Disney decision to reboot the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise without him.

Minamata tells the story of a small Japanese village whose residents began to fall ill from mercury poisoning in the 1950s. Johnny Depp plays photojournalist Eugene W. Smith who helped trace the mercury to a chemical company that was dumping waste in the water. Andrew Levitas' letter focuses not on Depp's situation but rather the film itself. He clearly feels that this is a story that needs to be told and that holding the film's release essentially means MGM is considering its own image before considering the victims of this tragedy and their families.

MGM released a statement saying simply that Minamata is still a future release planned by the studio and that it simply did not have a release date yet. To be sure, every movie has seen complications when it has come to release in the last year, so the idea that the studio might simply be waiting for the right time isn't outside possibility.

Certainly, at some point Minamata will be released in some format. The The question is now is when will that be, and when it happens, how much promotion will it see?

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.