Don’t expect ’emancipation’ for Oscar winner Will Smith in 2022. Originally slated to hit the fall festival circuit later this year, the Apple actor’s next film, and co-produced by his production company Westbrook Studios, plans to delay the film’s release to sometime in 2023.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), the film would have been Smith’s first outing after his assault on comedian Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards. As a result, he was banned from attending the Oscars and other Academy-related events for 10 years.
Although the studio hasn’t officially dated “Emancipation,” it was expected to be the streamer’s next potential prize project this year after winning best picture for “CODA.” Although Apple didn’t share an official date, a source familiar with the matter said “it’s the unspoken truth” that the action drama won’t be hitting the platform in 2022. However, the same source also revealed that there are ongoing internal discussions between Apple executives and filmmakers about how a fall release might go forward, but that seems highly unlikely.
In the weeks leading up to this year’s Oscars, buzz was already building about “Emancipation.” A filmmaker, who asked to remain anonymous, said Variety before the Oscars they saw the first images of the film: “Will will win twice in a row.” At the time, the quote referred to his upcoming Best Actor win for “King Richard.”
Smith’s altercation with Rock would be a dominant topic surrounding the promotion of the film, whether Smith was involved or not. While the slapping controversy is a big factor in the planned change, multiple sources have shared that Fuqua is still deep in post-production and may not be ready in time for a 2022 arc. The film has suffered numerous delays. due to moving production from Georgia to Louisiana to protest the state’s voting restriction laws, the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida, and the hiatus due to COVID cases in August 2021.
Another contributor is a full roster for Apple in the second half. Many of his films could be marketed for a major awards push.
The company scooped the Sundance Film Festival People’s Choice Award “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” starring Dakota Johnson, which will be released on June 17, before unveiling the animated feature “Luck” from its new Skydance Animation acquisition on 5 August. Additionally, Apple has several undated of the anticipated movies, including Martin Scorsese’s “The Flower Moon Killers” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jesse Plemons. The Oscar-winning director of “The Departed” is also still in the editing room with his longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. Scorsese is known for his lengthy process of finishing his films, and despite wrapping in September 2021, the $200 million film adaptation could also face a possible move to 2023.
Always awaited this year from Apple, “Raymond & Ray” by Rodrigo Garcia, with Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke, and “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” by Peter Farrelly, his first film since “Green Book” won the best film. Additionally, the company has a handful of documentaries in the works, including an as yet untitled Sidney Poitier documentary by Reginald Hudlin, Sacha Jenkins’ “Black & Blues: The Colorful Ballad of Louis Armstrong” and Mat Croix’s “The Sound of 007”. white.
That’s not counting the acquisitions that could come out of Cannes, less than two weeks away, and the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals on the horizon.
“Emancipation” is written by Bill Collage and also stars Emmy nominee Ben Foster (“The Survivor”), and tells the story of a runaway slave who tries to escape his plantation owners. Todd Black, Joey McFarland and Jon Mone are also producers.
Apple Original Films had no comment.