Will Smith plays the main character, Peter, in Apple’s upcoming movie Emancipation. Although the movie has been highly anticipated, it has been delayed since Will infamously slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars. Apple released the first trailer on October 3, giving a first look at Will’s performance in the film, and revealed the movie’s release date: December 2, 2022.
Will shared the trailer on his Instagram page and wrote, “This was the hardest movie I’ve ever made. Blood, Sweat & Tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world.”
Emancipation is an action/thriller movie that follows the story of a “runaway slave” who goes on a journey through Louisiana during the Civil War era in the United States. Peter sets out on a journey to the north to escape the plantation owners who nearly ended his life. HollywoodLife has rounded up everything we know about Emancipation, the release date, cast, and more!
Release Date Revealed After Oscars Slap
In the wake of the Oscars slap scandal, Emancipation’s release date was delayed. The news of the film’s delay emerged on May 6, 2022, just over a month after Will’s incident at the Oscars. A source close to the movie’s production confirmed to Variety that the new release date for the project is set for sometime in 2023, but an exact date was yet to be determined. When The New York Times reached out to Apple for comment on the film on September 18, 2022, the company continued to decline to comment.
However, when the teaser trailer was released on October 3, Apple announced that Emancipation would be released in theaters on December 2, 2022. It will begin streaming on AppleTV+ a week after its theatrical release on December 9.
On March 27, 2022, Will shockingly slapped Chris at the 94th Annual Academy Awards after Chris made a joke about Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The joke that Chris made was in reference to Jada’s hair loss, which is due to her alopecia condition. When Chris made the joke on live TV and in front of their peers, Will jumped onto the stage and slapped Chris. “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth,” Will yelled from his seat. Chris quickly replied, “I’m going to, okay?” The rest of their altercation was bleeped out of the live TV broadcast.
The actor later won the Oscar for Best Actor and tearfully apologized for his behavior during his acceptance speech. “I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me; it’s about being able to shine a light on all the people … and the entire cast and crew of King Richard and Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams! But, love will make you do crazy things,” he said.
Will later resigned from The Academy. A few weeks after the Oscars, it was announced that Will would be banned from the Oscars for 10 years. “The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards,” AMPAS President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement.
Where & When to Watch
You will be able to watch Emancipation in theaters on December 2, 2022. The film will remain in theaters exclusively for a week before it will be available to stream on Apple TV+. After December 9, Emancipation will be available to watch in theaters and on Apple TV+. After much speculation about when the film would be released, Apple confirmed on October 3 that Emancipation would have a December 2022 release.
This release date indicates that Apple will attempt an awards season push for the film. According to The New York Times, a test screening for Emancipation had an “overwhelmingly positive reaction” from viewers. People called Will’s performance in the film “volcanic” and were “not turned off by Mr. Smith’s recent public behavior.”
Given the early reviews, it seems that Apple has faith that the film could do well during awards season, despite the Oscars scandal. Even though Will is banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, he can still be nominated for his performances.
On October 1, Emancipation held its first official screening in Washington D.C. as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Legislative Conference. Will attended the screening alongside director Antoine Fuqua. Will told the audience that he has turned down roles in the past “set in slavery” because he “never wanted to show us like that.” However, that changed with Emancipation.
“This is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith. This is a film about the heart of a man,” he said.
Cast & Crew
Will leads the film as Peter, a man who escapes slavery during the Civil War. The cast also includes Ben Foster as Fassel, Steven Ogg as Sergeant Howard, Charmaine Bingwa as Dodienne, Gilbert Owuor as Gordon, Mustafa Shakira as Andre Cailloux, Grant Harvey as Leeds, Ronnie Gene Blevins as Harrington, and Jayson Warner Smith as Captain John Lyons.
Who Is The Creative Team?
Antoine Fuqua is the director of Emancipation. He’s known for his films Training Day, The Equalizer, and The Guilty. This is the first time Antoine and Will have worked together.
Emancipation‘s creative team is quite impressive! Screenwriter Bill Collage is credited for penning this thriller, he is also known for writing Assassin’s Creed (2016), Allegiant (2016), and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).
The upcoming drama is actually based on the tragic true story of a slave living in the southern United States during the Civil War. Peter, played by Will, fled a plantation in Louisiana and joined the Union Army to fight his oppressors. His heartbreaking life story involves him being nearly whipped to death by his slave owners, which he eventually escapes. A real photo of Peter has been in history books for decades and also inspired the film. The poignant photo is called “The Scourged Back” and was captured in April of 1863, according to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website. Emancipation captures Will in this evocative role, said to be a potential Oscar winner for the studio prior to the slap.
Emancipation was originally set to begin filming in the state of Georgia, but in protest of the state’s voter laws the studio moved production to Louisiana. The location of Louisiana also has a deeper meaning since that is where the true story actually took place. The film began shooting back in July 2021 and had to pause due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases on set, according to Deadline. According to the movie’s IMDb page it is officially in “post production” as of this writing.