Johnny Depp produces and stars in ‘Minamata,’ a movie about photojournalist Eugene Smith who documented the effects of mercury poisoning on the citizens of Minamata, Kumamoto, Japan.
While the film has received release dates in Europe and Asia, its North American distributor MGM has put the movie through several delays and has yet to give a concrete date for its premiere.
Some have speculated that it is due to the very public legal battle between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. While the former has lost out on parts during the lawsuit, the latter seems to be getting roles without an issue.
”Minamata’ director Andrew Levitas told Deadline that he was told by MGM acquisitions head Sam Wollman that the film conglomerate “had decided to ‘bury the film’” and would not be promoting it.
This prompted Levitas to write a letter to MGM, as well as its backers The Eugene Smith Foundation and the Minamata Foundation to decry the attempt to stop the movie from being released in the United States. Deadline obtained the entire letter.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Levitas continued, “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.”
The movie was released in Europe, making its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 21, 2020 and will be released in the United Kingdom in August 2021, though covid restrictions may create another delay for that country.
You can watch the trailer here:
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