MGM has bought the Johnny Depp drama “Minamata” and has set an awards-season release of Feb. 5, 2021, through its revived American International Pictures label.
MGM also acquired all rights to “Minamata” in Canada, Germany and Switzerland. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February.
Set in 1971, Depp portrays photojournalist Eugene Smith, who’s become a recluse and disconnected from the world he once shot. After receiving one final assignment from Life Magazine editor Robert Hayes (played by Bill Nighy), he must travel to the Japanese coastal city of Minamata, which has been ravaged by mercury poisoning. Assisted by an impassioned Japanese translator and encouraged by local villagers, his powerful images expose decades of gross negligence by the country’s Chisso Corporation.
“Minamata” also stars Jun Kunimura, Ryo Kase, Tadanobu Asano and Akiko Iwase. Andrew Levitas directed the film from a screenplay by Levitas, David K. Kessler, Stephen Deuters and Jason Forman. “Minamata” is produced by Levitas for Metalwork Pictures and Depp for Infinitum Nihil, as well as producers Sam Sarkar, Bill Johnson, Gabrielle Tana, Kevan Van Thompson, David K Kessler and Zach Avery.
Executive producers are Jason Forman, Stephen Deuters, Peter Touche, Stephen Spence, Peter Watson, Marie-Gabrielle Stewart, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Norman Merry, Peter Hampden, Nobu Hasegawa and Joe Hasegawa. The “Minamata” deal was brokered by HanWay’s Gabrielle Stewart, CAA’s Federica Sainte-Rose and MGM’s Sam Wollman.
With the Oscars shifted to April 25, 2021, the eligibility period has been shifted back to Feb. 28, 2021. MGM announced earlier this month that it was relaunching the American International Pictures label, founded as an independent film production and distribution company in the 1950s. The news about “Minimata” was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.
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