Netflix will host Johnny Depp's movie return

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Netflix will play host to Johnny Depp's first new movie in over two years. 

Depp, who has spent the vast majority of 2022 engaged in a difficult legal battle with his ex-wife Amber Heard, has not made a feature film since Minamata, a drama released in 2020. He is now confirmed to star in La Favorite, where he will play French monarch King Louis XV. 

News first broke of Depp and Netflix's involvement in the film earlier today (July 7), when reports from Bloomberg indicated that Netflix would be helping to finance and stream Depp’s new movie.

TechRadar has learned from a Netflix spokesperson that the streaming giant is not providing financing for the movie, but has instead licensed the film for hosting on its platform after a theatrical release. 

La Favorite is a production from a French company, Why Not Productions. It is expected to be released in 2023 in French movie theaters with Netflix then waiting a full 15 months before it will go on the platform. Even then, the movie will be available only to Netflix's French subscribers.  

The French newspaper Le Figaro has some details on the movie's shoot, as well, which is set for this summer and will include work at France's historic Palace of Versailles.

Working alongside Depp on the project will be Maïwenn Le Besco, known simply in France as Maïwenn. She will both direct and star in the movie, which will be a biopic of the life of Jeanne Bécu

Bécu, who grew up in poverty as the illegitimate daughter of an impoverished seamstress, went on to rise through the Court of Louis XV to become his last official mistress.

Booked to star alongside the pair are Pierre Richard and Noémie Lvovsky. 

Analysis: A risky move for Netflix?

When speaking to TechRadar, Netflix's spokesperson was keen to stress that the streaming giant is offering no money to the project and that it will only be available in France. This isn't Netflix putting its arm around Depp and shepherding him back into the spotlight, else you'd imagine their executives would be putting their hands in their pockets. 

After the end of his trial, which played out in brutal, unpleasant detail in televised proceedings, Depp has spent the summer on tour with veteran rocker Jeff Beck, but speculation had already been rife about when he would return to acting and in what sort of project. 

Vanity Fair quotes a movie industry source in their report on the announcement of Depp's involvement in the project, who tells the magazine: "I think it’s just going to take one studio hiring him. Maybe he has to make an independent film or make something that’s outside the studio system for it to be acceptable to hire him again.”

It seems Depp has made that precise move. An independent movie, shot in Europe away from the surroundings of his trial, as a first step back. Whether Vanity Fair's source proves to be correct and a Hollywood studio will book Depp once again, only time will tell.  

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…