×

Johnny Depp to Play War Photographer W. Eugene Smith in ‘Minamata’

Johnny Depp has come on board to star as war photographer W. Eugene Smith in the independent drama “Minamata.”

The film will center on Smith’s work as a photographer for Life magazine in exposing the poisoning of the people of Minamata, Japan. Andrew Levitas will direct the film, which is based on the book by Aileen Mioko Smith and W. Eugene Smith and adapted by David K. Kessler.

The story will start with Smith as a recluse, with the glory days of World War II far behind him. But an old friend and a commission from Life Magazine editor Ralph Graves convince him to journey back to Japan to expose a big story: the devastating annihilation of a coastal community through mercury poisoning. “Minamata” will start principal production in Japan followed by Serbia in January.

HanWay Films will handle international sales and distribution and will commence sales at the American Film Market, which opens on Oct. 31 in Santa Monica, Calif. CAA Media Finance will handle US rights. “Minamata” has been developed by Depp’s production entity Infinitum Nihil and is produced by Sam Sarkar, Bill Johnson and Andrew Levitas. Jason Forman and Stephen Deuters will executive produce.

“Working with Johnny to give voice to those who have been silently suffering is a responsibility we do not take lightly,” Levitas said. “Much like Eugene Smith in 1971, we could not feel more privileged or humbled to be tasked with the mission of bringing this incredible story to the world.”

HanWay Films’ Gabrielle Stewart added, “Eugene Smith’s personal redemptive story arc is really human and touching as he opens up and connects to the people in front of his camera. His story is extremely relevant as it explores how a powerful image can spur the world into action.”

Depp and producer Andrea Iervolino announced Monday that they have formed a partnership to develop and produce film and digital content. The pact is starting with the drama “Waiting for the Barbarians,” starring Depp, Mark Rylance, and Robert Pattinson. Production begins later this month in Morocco.

Depp and Levitas are both represented by CAA. Kessler is managed by Amy Schiffman at Echo Lake Entertainment.

 

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

  • Ready or Not Movie

    'Ready or Not,' 'Angel Has Fallen' Enter Box Office Race

    Three more contenders are joining what has lately been a hostile box office arena. Can anyone emerge from August victorious? Fox Searchlight’s “Ready or Not,” a black comedy about a diabolical game of hide-and-seek, will debut in 2,244 North American theaters on Wednesday. The low-budget film is expected to earn upwards of $6.5 million over [...]

  • Rules Don't Apply

    Warren Beatty and Arnon Milchan Settle Suit Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Arnon Milchan and Warren Beatty have settled their two-year legal battle over the disastrous release of “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty’s period drama about Howard Hughes. Milchan’s attorneys have filed a notice with the court dismissing his suit against Beatty. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Milchan’s company, New Regency, sued Beatty and other investors [...]

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a

    Bolsonaro LGBTQI Outburst, Subsidy Freeze, Stirs Outrage

    Ramping up the drive into censorship in Brazil, its Minister of Citizenship, Omar Terra, has suspended a call for applications for governmental TV funding – until new criteria are established for its application. The country’s secretary for culture, Henrique Pires, who reports to Terra, has resigned in protest of the incentive freeze. The suspension, for [...]

  • Adam Brody'Ready or Not' film premiere,

    Adam Brody to Executive Produce, Star in 'The Kid Detective'

    “Ready or Not’s” Adam Brody has signed on to star in “The Kid Detective.” Sophie Nelisse will co-star in the dramedy from writer-director Evan Morgan. Brody will star as a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, who continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity until a 16-year-old client (Nelisse) brings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content