A long-delayed Johnny Depp movie has finally hit theaters, one year after it was initially scheduled to premiere. Deadline reports that Minamata, a biopic about famed photojournalist Eugene Smith, is opening in about two-dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. In the film, Depp portrays Smith, who took his final Life magazine assignment in 1971, which took him across the Pacific ocean to Japan, where through his photographs he exposed decades of terrible misconduct by a large chemical company.
While the film’s subject matter is social and historically important, the film itself was sidelined because of the legal issues between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, who has accused the actor of assault. Minamata director and co-writer, Andrew Levitas, previously spoke out about the situation, saying, “In this instance, you have the opportunity to make change, to really help and support people, like the Minamata victims,” he said. “It’s 50 years later, and [they] are still fighting to be recognized in Japan.” He explained that other groups around the world are engaged in similar “parts-per-million” fights (the number of units of mass of a contaminant per million units of total mass). “Everything you drink or eat, how it is determined whether it’s allowed or not, is parts per million – of arsenic in water, of mercury in water, of whatever,” Levitas added.
Depp has not had many films released over the past few years, also seemingly stemming from his ongoing court-battles, but did have another partial-biopic debut in 2021, titled City of Lies. The film tells the story of retired detective LAPD Russell Poole who worked the case of the drive-by shooting that left Smalls — also known as The Notorious B.I.G. — dead. Forest Whitaker also stars, playing a journalist named Jackson teams with Poole almost 20 years later to further investigate the shooting. Whitaker’s role was inspired by journalist and author Randall Sullivan, who wrote the book that the film is based on, LAbyrinth.
City of Lies was originally set to be released by Global Road Entertainment back in 2018, but was removed from the schedule one month before. It later screened the Noir in Festival, in Italy, in December of the same year. The film was given a limited release in Italy in 2019, but was not released anywhere else. In 2021, it was announced that Saban Films had acquired the film’s distribution rights, and was released in theaters on March 19.