Johnny Depp’s latest drama, Minamata, has received a new official release date in North America, after it premiered in February 2020 at the Berlin International Film Festival. The movie’s production company, Iervolino and Lady Bacardi Entertainment (ILBE), is now working with Samuel Goldwyn Films to distribute the feature, which was originally set to be released by MGM.
Minamata will be distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films in theaters across U.S. and Canada on December 15. The drama’s release is due to extend into next year, in hopes of awards consideration.
Samuel Goldwyn Films’ acquisition of the drama comes after its director-producer, Andrew Levitas, complained earlier this year that MGM was burying the feature because of Depp’s well publicized personal and legal battles. The Academy Award-nominated actor has also criticized the delay in Minamata‘s distribution, noting he feels it was shelved because he was being boycotted by Hollywood.
Minamata tells the true story of acclaimed war photographer, W. Eugene Smith, who’s played by Depp. The photographer, who published major photo essays during World War II, traveled back to Japan in the 1970s. His pictures document the devastating effect of mercury poisoning in Japanese communities by a major corporation, which dumped chemicals into the country’s waterways.
After the movie had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, MGM acquired it in fall 2020. The filmmakers expected the studio to release the feature in North America earlier this year through its American International Pictures label.
Minamata has already been distributed in a host of international markets but, MGM stalled on setting the feature’s domestic release, which was initially been set for February 5. Recently, the filmmakers were finally able to renegotiate a deal to make sure the movie would be seen by a domestic audience.
While discussing Samuel Goldwyn Films’ distribution of Minamata, Levitas said: “I am thrilled that North American audiences will finally be able to learn about what happened and continues to happen in Minamata and around the world. The silencing of marginalized voices and those left behind (as well artists) by large corporate behemoths has to end, and with new like-minded partners this story will finally come to light in North America and hopefully offer some peace to the victims and their families who have been put through far too much.”
Andrea Iervolino, who’s one of the producing duo at ILBE, has also commented on the movie’s release: “Anchored by standout performances and stunning direction and craft artistry, Minamata is the kind of purposeful storytelling that sinks in with audiences and a movie they will appreciate seeing. We’re thrilled to be able to orchestrate a release campaign alongside Samuel Goldwyn that will invite audiences into this story.”
In addition to Depp, Minamata also stars Bill Nighy, Minami, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jun Kunimura, Ryo Kase, Asano Tadanobu and Akiko Iwase. The drama was written and produced by David K. Kessler, Stephen Deuters, Levitas and Jason Forman. Depp also served as a producer on the film for Infinitum Nihil.