MGM has acquired Johnny Depp’s newest film through its American International Pictures label. The black and white film was directed by Andrew Levitas and centers around the true story of a mercury poisoning scandal that occurred in the Japanese coastal city of Minamata. Depp stars alongside Love Actually’s Bill Nighy, Sunshine actor Hiroyuki Sanada, and Japanese actress Minami.
Depp plays Eugene Smith, a famed photojournalist who takes a final assignment from his Life Magazine editor. He travels to Minamata, where mercury poisoning caused by factories dumping chemicals into the water has ravaged the locals of the city. Accompanied by a Japanese translator and a local villager, he works to expose decades of gross negligence by the Chisso Corporation.
In a statement, Levitas said he was “humbled and pleased that wonderful distributors like MGM, NGOs, and institutions, around the world have joined us in our effort to bring light and voice to the people of Minamata and all of those who are forgotten, oppressed, and left voiceless. This uplifting story of hope, passion, and community reminds us that alone we may be the parts per million, but together we are the millions.”
Levitas penned the script with David Kessler, Jason Forman and Stephen Deuters. Minamata is aiming for a February 5 theatrical and PVOD release. It premiered during the Berlin International Film Festival last February, and currently has a 61% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes with 23 reviews.
“It’s an incredibly dynamic moment in the acquisition space right now, which has allowed us the freedom to explore new opportunities within the premium content world,” said Chris Ottinger, President of World Wide Television Distribution & Acquisitions at MGM. “We are thrilled to be releasing Andrew’s film via this newly relaunched label.”