Minamata Director Blasts MGM For Burying Johnny Depp’s New Movie

Johnny Depp

The constant swirl of publicity around Johnny Depp’s personal life has drastically affected his professional one, with many inside the industry now completely writing off the chances of a comeback, which history has shown is something that can never truly be ruled out.

Having been dropped from both the Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts franchises, Depp may never be able to reclaim his status at the top of the Hollywood A-list where he reigned as one of the biggest, most bankable and highest-paid names in the industry, but his cause isn’t helped by his latest project allegedly being buried.

Biographical drama Minamata scored a quiet festival circuit premiere early last year, and the leading man received some of the best reviews he’d seen in years for his performance as Eugene Smith, a photographer who traveled to Japan in the 1970s to investigate and document the effects mercury poisoning was having on small coastal communities.

Minamata currently boasts a solid Rotten Tomatoes score of 70%, but a lot of people might not even be aware that the film even exists. Director Andrew Levitas has now penned an emotional open letter to MGM and the project’s financial backers, and he accuses the studio of deliberately burying his feature because Johnny Depp plays the lead role.

“Roughly a year ago MGM purchased the North American rights to the film Minamata after viewing it at the Berlinale. MGM was intent on bringing to light the suffering of the thousands of victims of one of the most heinous industrial pollution incidents the world has ever seen. In re-exposing their pain in the sharing of their story, this long marginalized community hoped for only one thing – to lift history from the shadows so that other innocents would never be afflicted as they have… and it seemed in that moment, with MGM’s partnership, a decades-long wish was finally coming true.

Now, imagine the devastation when they learned this past week, that despite an already successful global roll out, MGM had decided to ‘bury the film’ (acquisitions head Mr. Sam Wollman’s words) because MGM was concerned about the possibility that the personal issues of an actor in the film could reflect negatively upon them and that from MGM’s perspective the victims and their families were secondary to this.”


Levitas clearly holds the subject matter close to his heart, so he’s got every right to voice his opinions on how Minamata was quietly swept under the rug. By all accounts it’s a good movie with a fantastic central performance, but the shadow of Johnny Depp looming over it was apparently a bone of contention for MGM. It’s still scheduled to hit theaters in the United Kingdom on August 13th, but as of yet a domestic debut remains unconfirmed.