“Jeanne Du Barry,” the latest film from French director Maïwenn that stars Johnny Depp, has found a North American distributor in Vertical following its Cannes debut, an individual with knowledge told IndieWire.
“Jeanne Du Barry” was the opening night film at the Cannes Film Festival last month, where it received a 7-minute standing ovation from the crowd in the Palais. But it was a controversial choice because of Depp’s continued career rehab following the highly publicized defamation trial between him and ex-wife Amber Heard, but also because of a report against Maïwenn that accused her of assaulting a journalist, an accusation she later admitted to.
The film stars Depp as the French King Louis XV in a supporting role and primarily follows Maïwenn as Jeanne Vaubernier, an 18th Century French working class woman who became King Louis XV’s lover. Here’s the full synopsis:
“Jeanne du Barry” follows Jeanne Vaubernier (Maïwenn), a working-class woman determined to climb the social ladder, using her charms to escape her impoverished life. Her lover, the Comte du Barry (Poupaud), wishes to present her to King Louis XV (Depp) and orchestrates a meeting through the influential Duke of Richelieu (Richard). The encounter goes far beyond his expectations for it was love at first sight for the King and Jeanne. Through this ravishing courtesan, the king rediscovers his appetite for life and feels he can no longer live without her. Making Jeanne his last official mistress, scandal erupts as no one at Court will accept a girl from the streets into their rarified world.
No specific release plans were unveiled along with the acquisition, and while the film might get a small theatrical release, Vertical will most likely give the film a VOD play. The distributor also picked up a package for an Emma Roberts comedy called “Hot Mess” out of the Marché du Film.
Maïwenn also co-wrote, directed and produced the critically acclaimed film which also stars well-known French actors Benjamin Lavernhe, Pierre Richard, Melvil Poupaud, and Pascal Greggory. The co-writers are Teddy Lussi-Modeste and Nicolas Livecchi and the film’s producers are Pascal Caucheteux and Grégoire Sorlat.
Already the film has performed strongly at the French box office, bringing in $4.1 million over two weeks, and Netflix even has the French rights after its theatrical run. But a North American sale seemed less certain given Depp’s recent woes with Hollywood.
IndieWire’s review out of Cannes said that despite Depp’s star power, the film is largely an acting showcase for Maïwenn, “for better or for worse.”
“To call the style ‘self-infatuated’ is less a criticism than a simple statement of fact,” IndieWire’s Ben Croll wrote. “The auteur promises director and muse wrapped in one, with a voice louder and angrier than that of anyone else; when not on screen, all the other characters tend to ask, Where’s Maïwenn?”
While this acquisition for “Jeanne du Barry” might not represent a career comeback for Depp, even if Hollywood appears ready for it, the star at the film’s press conference was asked about whether he felt “boycotted” by Hollywood and said he didn’t feel inclined to begin his comeback tour.
“Did I feel a boycott by Hollywood? Well, you’d have to not have a pulse to feel at that point, ‘None of this is happening, it’s just a weird joke or I have been asleep for 35 years,’” Depp said during the Cannes press conference. “Of course, when you’re asked to resign from a film you’re doing, because of something that is merely a bunch of kind of vowels and consonants floating in the air, you feel a boycott.”
The production companies are Why Not Productions, France 2 Cinéma, France 3 Cinéma, La Petite Reine, Impala Productions, Les Films de Batna, In.2 Film, and Les Films du Fleuve. Rounding out the below the line talent is cinematographer Laurent Dailland, editor Laure Gardette, production designer Angelo Zamparutti, costume designer Jürgen Doering, and composer Stephen Warbeck.
“‘Jeanne du Barry’ was by far the most talked about film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and we are thrilled to have come out on top of the competitive bidding war for the domestic rights to Maïwenn’s [visually] stunning piece of cinematic art showcasing Johnny Depp’s return to the big screen,” Vertical Partner Peter Jarowey said in a statement. “With Johnny’s huge appeal, we feel moviegoers that may not typically seek out foreign films just might turn out for this one.”
CAA Media Finance and Goodfellas jointly handled the North American sale. Jarowey and Senior Vice President of Acquisitions Tony Piantedosi negotiated the deal on behalf of Vertical.
Variety first reported the news of the film’s North American sale.