Shortly after Amber Heard began spewing allegations of domestic violence and abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, Hollywood began to divide on the subject of the Pirates of the Caribbean actor, not the least of which was Disney.
Several turned their backs on the seasoned actor, and those who did, did so without a single shred of evidence to prove the allegations were true. Instead, they simply walked away and cut ties, and rather than offering Depp an opportunity to be heard, they offered him nothing more than a cold shoulder. It was disgraceful, to say the least.
But Disney seemed to lead the revolt against Johnny Depp. Rather than waiting for the due process of law, waiting for the truth, or attempting to give Depp a chance to tell his side of the story, the House of Mouse turned its back on Depp, even though Depp single-handedly created for Disney a $5 billion enterprise in the form of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, to say nothing of the merchandise sales and profits from Depp’s likeness as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Credit: Disney Parks
Now Disney has created a new source of revenue based on Depp’s enormous talent. Effective today, one of Johnny Depp’s newest films is streaming on the Disney-owned Hulu streaming platform.
Disney recently purchased the streaming right to the film Minamata (R), directed by Andrew Levitas. The film tells the story of war photographer W. Eugene Smith, portrayed by Johnny Depp, and is based on actual events, according to IMDB:
New York, 1971. Following his celebrated days as one of the most revered photojournalists of World War II, W. Eugene Smith (Johnny Depp) has become a recluse, disconnected from society and his career. But a secret commission from Life magazine editor Robert Hayes (Bill Nighy) sends him to the Japanese coastal city of Minamata, which has been ravaged by mercury poisoning; the result of decades of gross industrial negligence by the country’s Chisso Corporation. There, Smith immerses himself in the community, documenting their efforts to live with Minamata Disease and their passionate campaign to achieve recognition from Chisso and the Japanese government. Armed with only his trusted camera, Smith’s images from the toxic village give the disaster a heartbreaking human dimension, and his initial assignment turns into a life-changing experience.
Minamata debuted in 2020, but it wasn’t released in the United States until 2021. The director of the film, Andrew Levitas, reportedly felt that the film was being unfairly criticized because of the troubles Depp was experiencing in his personal life.
It’s difficult to overlook Disney’s comfort level with associating with Depp–well, his projects, anyway–when they so loudly took a stand of opposition against him. During his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, Depp testified about the abuse he endured at the hands of the Aquaman actress. A Disney film executive testified via recorded deposition that Depp was released because he sometimes showed up to the set drunk. She further gave accounts of Depp arriving at the set hours later than he was scheduled to arrive.
Credit: The Independent
It’s also difficult to overlook the timeline of Disney’s ties-cutting with Depp. It coincided very nicely with Heard’s loud allegations against Johnny Depp. But if Disney released Depp on the basis of those allegations, isn’t it time they apologize for such a presumptive move and bring him back? Further, if Disney doesn’t want that association–whether because of the allegations or because he was sometimes tardy to recording sessions, why do they continue to profit from him via the Pirates film franchise and now, the proceeds from the streaming rights to one of Depp’s newest films?
Sounds like a serious case of “having cake and eating it too.” Sorry, Disney, but you can’t have it both ways. Minamata is available to stream on Disney’s Hulu streaming platform beginning July 8.
I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured.
I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for.
I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood!
Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!