Minamata director Andrew Levitas claims MGM is ‘burying’ his film

More than a year and a half after his film Minamata debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2020, director Andrew Levitas claims MGM is “burying” the film amid star Johnny Depp’s legal turmoil.

MGM acquired the film in October 2020 through its recently relaunched American International Pictures, originally slated for a February 2021 release.

While a UK and Ireland release is set to take place on August 13, there is still no scheduled North American release, with the director claiming in a letter he sent to MGM and others that he was told the studio was “making the film.” buries’.

Turmoil: More than a year and a half after his film Minamata debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2020, director Andrew Levitas (right) claims MGM is “burying” the film amid the legal turmoil of star Johnny Depp (left)

Buried: While a UK and Ireland release is set to take place on August 13, there is still no planned North American release, with the director claiming in a letter he sent to MGM and others that he was told the studio was movie 'buries'

Buried: While a UK and Ireland release is set to take place on August 13, there is still no planned North American release, with the director claiming in a letter he sent to MGM and others that he was told the studio was movie ‘buries’

Levitas sent the letter Monday, along with Minamata’s backers, The Eugene Smith Foundation and the Minamata Foundation, where he claims he was told by someone at MGM that Minamata would not be promoted by the studio at all.

“MGM decided to ‘bury the film,'” Levitas says in the letter.

The film was picked up as Depp fought over libel, which he eventually lost, the latest in a series of legal battles with ex Amber Heard.

Letter: Levitas sent the letter to MGM Monday along with Minamata's backers, The Eugene Smith Foundation and the Minamata Foundation, where he claims he was told MGM's head of acquisition Sam Wollman told him that Minamata would not be promoted by the studio at all.

Letter: Levitas sent the letter to MGM Monday along with Minamata’s backers, The Eugene Smith Foundation and the Minamata Foundation, where he claims he was told MGM’s head of acquisition Sam Wollman told him that Minamata would not be promoted by the studio at all.

Depp had also pulled out of his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spin-off films Fantastic Beasts, which happened after Minamata was picked up by MGM.

Levitas argues that MGM should reconsider because the film’s subject matter is more important than Depp’s legal issues.

Depp plays the iconic photographer Eugene Smith, who unmasks the Japanese Chisso Corporation, which was responsible for the mercury poisoning of the residents of Minamata, Kumamoto, Japan in the 1950s.

Withdrawn: Depp had also pulled out of his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spin-off films Fantastic Beasts, which happened after Minamata was picked up by MGM

Withdrawn: Depp had also pulled out of his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spin-off films Fantastic Beasts, which happened after Minamata was picked up by MGM

Photographer: Depp plays the iconic photographer Eugene Smith, who helps uncover the Japanese Chisso Corporation, which was responsible for the mercury poisoning of the residents of Minamata, Kumamoto, Japan in the 1950s

Photographer: Depp plays the iconic photographer Eugene Smith, who helps uncover the Japanese Chisso Corporation, which was responsible for the mercury poisoning of the residents of Minamata, Kumamoto, Japan in the 1950s

The film also stars Minami as Smith’s translator, Bill Nighy as Robert Hayes, Smith’s former editor of Life Magazine, and Hiroyuki Sanada as a villager who helps Smith expose the corruption of the Chisso Corporation.

When asked about the letter Levitas sent, an MGM spokesperson said it will still be released by AIP, though no date has been set.

The film was purchased for release through American International Pictures (AIP), a division of MGM that provides day-and-date releases. Minamata remains one of the future AIP releases and at this time the film’s release date in the US is TBA,” the statement said.

No date: When asked about the letter Levitas sent, an MGM spokesperson said it will still be released by AIP, although no date has been set

No date: When asked about the letter Levitas sent, an MGM spokesperson said it will still be released by AIP, although no date has been set

Levitas said he learned this week that despite an already successful global rollout, MGM had decided to “bury the film” (acquisitions head Mr. Sam Wollman’s words) because MGM was concerned about the possibility of an actor’s personal problems in the film could reflect negatively on them and that from MGM’s perspective, the victims and their families were subordinate to this.’

“In a stark reminder of The Chisso Corporation’s actions in Minamata and the unethical tactics of far too many other large companies, MGM stated it would honor its ‘legal obligation’ and nothing more,” Levitas added, meaning that it would release the film but does not promote it in any way.

“By doing this, MGM is making a conscious decision to hurt these innocents again, heartlessly trampling their lives, their legacy, their deceased loved ones and their courage,” Levitas continued.

Personal issues: Levitas said he learned this week that, despite an already successful global rollout, MGM had decided to… "bury the movie" (acquisitions head Mr. Sam Wollman's words) because MGM was concerned about the possibility that an actor's personal problems in the film could have a negative impact on them and that from MGM's perspective the victims and their families are subject to it goods'

Personal Issues: Levitas said he learned this week that, despite an already successful global rollout, MGM had decided to “bury the film” (acquisitions head Mr. Sam Wollman’s words) because MGM was concerned about the possibility of a person’s personal issues actor in the film could reflect negatively on them and that from MGM’s perspective, the victims and their families were subservient to this’

The director added that while the studios are within their rights to bury the story, they also have a “moral obligation to do better than that.”

“At the very least, we beg you to speak directly with Mr. Uemura (the parent of one of the victims) and the other victims and give them the dignity to understand 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 crime,” Levitas added.

The director also added some of the photos Smith himself shot in the 1950s, concluding, “We remain steadfast that MGM will land on the right side of these issues.”

Photos: The director also included some of the photos Smith himself took in the 1950s, concluding that 'we remain steadfast that MGM will land on the right side of these issues'

Photos: The director also included some of the photos Smith himself took in the 1950s, concluding that ‘we remain steadfast that MGM will land on the right side of these issues’

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