Will Smith’s ‘Emancipation’ Gets December Release Date from Apple as First Trailer Is Released

After some uncertainty following Will Smith’s notorious Oscars slap, Apple has announced a release date for Smith’s highly anticipated film Emancipation. In anticipation of award season, the film will premiere in theatres on December 2 and become available on streaming services on December 9. Apple and the NAACP sponsored the first screening of the film in Washington, DC, and Smith was there to see it. Days later, Apple and NAACP unveiled the film’s debut trailer and poster.

Smith walked out on Chris Rock during the Oscars in March when Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith, who later that night won best actor for King Richard, was expelled from the Academy and forbidden to attend awards ceremonies for the next decade. The fact that he can’t participate in any Academy award season events is an added complication. However, he can still be considered for nomination.

Netflix shelved their plans to stream the Will Smith film Fast and Loose in the wake of the controversy. During his most in-depth comments to date, which were published on video by Smith on July 29, he said, “there is no part of me that thinks it was the correct thing to behave in that moment.” Apple won a bidding war to acquire the property from the Cannes virtual market in 2020, and Antoine Fuqua will direct.

In addition to Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa, the cast also includes Gilbert Owuor, Mustafa Shakir, Steven Ogg, Grant Harvey, Ronnie Gene Bivens, Jayson Warner Smith, Jabbar Lewis, Michael Luwoye, Aaron Moten, and Imani Pullum. Writing the script was William N. Collage. In this film based on a true event, we follow Peter (Smith),

a fugitive slave who made his way north, dodging ruthless hunters and making it through the treacherous Louisiana marshes. Peter gained his independence and immediately enlisted in the Union Army. Scars from a near-fatal beating by an overseer on the John and Bridget Lyons plantation were photographed as he exposed his back during an army medical examination.

Smith Emancipation Movie Release Date
Smith Emancipation Movie Release Date

In May of 1863, a photograph titled “The Scourged Back” appeared in a British newspaper called The Independent. The article first appeared in the July 4 issue of Harper’s Weekly, and its publication provided irrefutable evidence of the brutality and inhumanity of slavery in the United States. Though 2022 was always thought to be the year of emancipation, after the Slap, speculation began that Apple would delay the event until 2023.

Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, was originally scheduled for release in 2023, thus Apple will be without a potential Oscar candidate that year now that we know its release date is 2024. In early 2018, the streaming service won an award for best picture for the first time, thanks to the film CODA.

ANTOINE FUQUA: To put it simply, it was a fantastic experience. The first time we saw the full film with an audience was this. It was thrilling to see the audience react to the film in the ways you hoped they would—with gasps, conversations, and insightful observations about the action on screen. They were inspired and amused by it. We had a wonderful discussion on what was vitally important to them. Therefore, it was very remarkable.

FUQUA: For one thing, I was energised by the script. Making a movie about slavery is intimidating for me as a director. Since you value accuracy, I’ll do my best to reflect reality and provide you an authentic experience. What I discovered was that it greatly motivated the audience. The 1863 photograph of Peter was the impetus for both the film’s creation by myself and Will. The audience was moved as well, as seen by their enthusiastic applause and cheers following. This is what touched me the most.

FUQUA: Truthfully, I have always argued that it is vitally crucial for filmmakers to have their work seen by as many people as possible. The real culprit was Apple, which was quietly pushing this in an attempt to steer the ship. They were always discussing what the optimal time for the film’s release would be from a business perspective. Apple and Will would phone me frequently, and Apple has been incredible all throughout the film. They didn’t bat an eye when we uprooted from Georgia to Louisiana. We survived the hurricanes, we survived Covid.

FUQUA: I found this to be the most challenging film I have ever worked on. Over a month passed while we were out of commission. The majority of our storage facilities were destroyed. We had to go out and rescout the area. I was in Louisiana and needed to see Baton Rouge, but many of the places I’d grown attached to were either gone or inaccessible.

Some of the staff and extras who travelled all the way from Louisiana to work on the film were homeless and had no plans for where they would remain once production wrapped. Apple came through again to help people, but this time it was more challenging. That was unlike anything I’d ever encountered before, and it gave me the creeps.

We returned to a city still in the process of rebuilding its infrastructure. It seemed like we’d always be dealing with places we couldn’t reach, or at least had to take much longer to reach. The heat was a problem, and shooting in the wetlands was a challenge. It’s odd that returning to the wetlands was risky at times, but that’s because of the dangers there. The picture benefited much from the new settings we discovered, as well as those we ultimately chose to shoot in. They were severe, adding to the reality that the people of the day had to live in.

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