MGM Accused Of ‘Burying’ Johnny Depp Film

by : Hannah Smith on : 27 Jul 2021 09:18
MGM Accused Of 'Burying' Johnny Depp FilmPA Images/MGM

The director of a film starring Johnny Depp has accused the movie studio behind the production of ‘burying’ it following allegations against the star.

In a letter to MGM, Andrew Levitas accused the studio of shelving his film, Minamata, over concerns ‘the personal issues of an actor in the film could reflect negatively upon them.’


Minamata stars Depp as a photojournalist who helps expose the decades-long mercury poisoning of residents in the town of Minamata, Japan as a result of negligence by the Chisso Corporation.

Metalworks Pictures/MGMMetalworks Pictures/MGM

According to Levitas, his film was acquired by MGM last year and scheduled for release in early 2021, but is yet to see the light of day amid Depp’s ongoing legal battles over allegations that he was physically and verbally abusive towards his former wife, Amber Heard.

In his letter, Levitas accused MGM of treating the victims of the Minamata scandal as ‘secondary’ to their concerns over Depp’s role in the film, and spoke of the ‘moral obligation’ to make sure the stories of the families affected by the decades-long poisoning were brought to light.

Johnny Depp in Minamata (Metalworks Pictures/MGM)Metalworks Pictures/MGM

He wrote:

Yes, you are legally within your rights to bury their story as so many have done before, but you have a moral obligation to do better than that and at a minimum we implore you to speak directly to Mr. Uemura and the other victims and offer them the dignity of understanding first hand why you think an actor’s personal life is more important than their dead children, their siblings, their parents, and all victims of industrial pollution and corporate malfeasance.

In a statement provided to Deadline, MGM did not comment on the allegations surrounding Depp’s role in the decision to delay the film’s release, but confirmed it was still on the studio’s books. ‘The film was acquired for release via American International Pictures (AIP), a division of MGM which handles day-and-date releases,’ it said. ‘Minamata continues to be among future AIP releases and at this time, the film’s U.S. release date is TBA.’


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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Film and TV, Film, Johnny Depp, no-article-matching


  1. Deadline

    Did Johnny Depp’s Fall From Grace Prompt MGM To “Bury” Japan Mercury Poisoning Drama ‘Minamata’? Read Letter Director Andrew Levitas Sent To Studio