"Beaver" acclaim spurs Mel Gibson comeback plans (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – In May, Mel Gibson stood basking in the applause of the black-tie audience as "The Beaver" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. But now Cannes has come and gone, and so has "Beaver," which grossed less than $1 million at the North American box office.

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

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 William Morris dropped him last summer, but several agencies are courting the actor, according to knowledgeable sources.

"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.

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 picture, 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."

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. 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; it is set to begin filming in Paris in August.

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