Mel Gibson Plots a Comeback

 Anne-Christine Poujoulata/AFP/Getty Images

In May, Mel Gibson stood basking in the applause of the black-tie audience as The Beaver had its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. But now Cannes has come and gone, and so has Beaver, which grossed less than $1 million.

So where does Gibson, whose image was tarnished by his outbursts during his bitter custody battle with his former girlfriend, go from here?

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Turns out, Hollywood is still eager to get into the Mel Gibson business. Beaver earned him some good reviews, and the general consensus is that any star would have had a hard time opening the quirky drama. "It was just a heavy, depressing, tough art movie," says one distributor.

Gibson hasn't had an agent since WME dropped him last summer, but several agencies are courting the actor, according to knowledgeable sources. UTA and ICM are said to be the most interested, though sources within both agencies tell THR they're not pursuing the actor.

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"There's a lot of interest on the agency side, but I don't think anything is imminent," says the actor's spokesman, Alan Nierob.

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There are other questions on the table: Gibson has completed a film that he produced, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, but it has yet to find a U.S. distributor even though it sold in most other global territories. Directed by Adrian Grunberg -- who served as first assistant director on Gibson's Apocalypto -- the sure-to-be-R-rated movie is set in a tough Mexican prison where Gibson's character, an American on the run, is thrown after being seized by Mexican authorities. There, he strikes up a friendship with a 9-year-old boy. Summit, Lionsgate and FilmDistrict have screened the pic, but so far no takers. "It's an interesting, cool movie," says one buyer who  passed. "In fact, it has what I'd call a Tarantino-esque feeling." Nierob predicts there will be a deal.

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There also is the question of what movie Gibson might take on next. Lately, he's been talking up a proposed film version of Randall Wallace's novel Love and Honor, a swashbuckler set in the court of Catherine the Great, which Wallace, who wrote Gibson's Braveheart, is looking to direct. More immediately, Gibson also has been offered a role in Sleight of Hand, a heist movie with Gerard Depardieu and Til Schweiger that is set to begin filming in Paris in August with Brad Mirman directing. Although he hasn't accepted the gig, Gibson has a fan in Hannibal Pictures producer Richard Rionda Del Castro. "I think he is tremendously gifted and talented, and he has fans all over the world who are eager to see him performing again," Rionda Del Castro says. "He is one of the most talented filmmakers on Earth. As a human being -- I'm not here to judge -- he's had a rough period in his life."           

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