LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mel Gibson is headed back into movie theaters after months of damaging publicity over his tempestuous relationship with ex-lover Oksana Grigorieva and a domestic abuse investigation by Los Angeles authorities.
Movie studio Summit Entertainment on Friday released the first promotional trailer and a poster of Gibson's long-delayed movie "The Beaver", in which the Oscar-winning director plays "a man who has lost all hope."
Directed by actress Jodie Foster, who also co-stars with Gibson, the family drama is described as "coming soon" to movie theaters. According to the Internet Movie Database website, "The Beaver" will be released in the UK in February 2011. No date was given for a U.S. release.
In "The Beaver", Gibson, 54, plays Walter Black, a man described in the trailer as "a hopelessly depressed individual" who finds solace and new hope by talking through a beaver hand-puppet.
Filming was completed earlier this year but the release was apparently put on hold after audio tapes were leaked in the summer of Gibson ranting at, and threatening Russian-born model Grigorieva as their brief relationship hit the rocks in January.
The "Braveheart" and "Passion of the Christ" director has remained silent throughout the furor, which caused him to lose a cameo part in the upcoming sequel to the comedy "The Hangover" due to cast objections, and to be dumped by his long-time Hollywood talent agency.
Los Angeles police are investigating Gibson on suspicion of domestic abuse, and Grigorieva for possible extortion. Neither has been charged.
Gibson, once considered one of Hollywood's most popular stars, made his last acting appearance in the thriller "Edge of Darkness" in January 2010, which made a lackluster $81 million at the global box office.
But according to an opinion poll in August, 76 percent of Americans questioned said the Gibson-Grigorieva scandal would have no effect on whether they would buy a ticket for a Gibson movie.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Phil Barbara