Netflix bets on Johnny Depp's return to film as French King Louis XV

La Favorite will be Johnny Depp's first cinema role since Hollywood turned its back on the actor. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - Netflix is set to co-finance and stream Johnny Depp's next film, a bet on the actor's first feature role following his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, and what he claimed was a wider boycott by Hollywood studios.

The French period film, La Favorite, in which Depp will portray King Louis XV, will receive financial backing from Netflix, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the terms haven't been announced publicly.

Directed by Maiwenn Le Besco, the film is expected to be released in 2023 in French theatres, and will be available on Netflix France 15 months later. It's not clear whether the film will be available on Netflix worldwide.

Representatives for Netflix and for the film's French producer, Why Not Productions, declined to comment for this story.

La Favorite will be Depp's first cinema role since Hollywood turned its back on the actor after his ex-wife made domestic violence accusations against him. The actor won US$10.35 million (S$14.5 million) in compensatory damages in a defamation suit against Heard in June. The same jury awarded US$2 million to Heard, who made similar claims. She has said she would appeal.

Depp was last featured in a film in 2020 and this will be his first time acting in French. It is set to be shot this summer over three months on locations including the Versailles castle, according to the Figaro newspaper.

Following a recent agreement with French cinema guilds, Netflix and other streaming platforms are expected to spend a share of their revenue on local films. Netflix said it would invest a total of 40 million euros (S$57 million) on French movies in 2022, with the Depp film being one of its first picks.

Le Besco will play Madame du Barry, the famous mistress of Louis XV. She has directed critically acclaimed films such as Polisse (2011) and Mon Roi (2015).

Other upcoming French films selected by Netflix include the comedy Asterix & Obelix: L'Empire Du Milieu, directed by Guillaume Canet, and Chien Et Chat, directed by actress and director Reem Kherici, according to the company.

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