Apple has postponed the release of Will Smith’s upcoming movie, Emancipation, in the wake of his infamous slapping of Chris Rock during the Academy Awards, it was revealed Friday.
Smith’s own Apple Original Films and Westbrook Studios are behind the upcoming drama that was expected to premiere this year, but sources say there is an “unspoken fact” that the film won’t be released until 2023.
The film directed by Antoine Fuqua won several awards ahead of this year’s Academy Awards, but Smith’s on-camera assault on Chris Rock prompted the studio to do damage control.
Backlash: Apple is delaying the release of Will Smith’s next movie, Emancipation, in the wake of his now-infamous slapping of Chris Rock during the Oscars, it was revealed Friday
Emancipating, sees Smith depicting a runaway slave named Peter, which is based on a true story from an 1863 photograph titled The Scourged Back.
The photo, according to History.com, depicted Peter showing off his back after a treacherous journey to freedom. (The photograph, which was at Harper’s Weekly in July of 1863, was crucial to changing the beliefs of white northerners aspiring to the abolition of slavery.)
The 53-year-old’s performance was expected to give him the Oscar nod – but that was before the 2022 gala where he slapped Chris Rock on stage.
A source told Variety that the historical drama – which would have been Smith’s first after the ordeal – ‘This is the unspoken truth’ will not appear until sometime in 2023.
Shelved: Smith’s own Apple Original Films and Westbrook Studios are behind the upcoming drama that was expected to premiere this year, but sources say there is an “unspoken fact” that the film won’t be released until 2023.
The outlet added that discussions are taking place behind closed doors about how or whether Will Smith should be involved in promoting the film.
The Oscar exchange between Smith and Rock happened after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaven head, saying, “Jada, I love you, JJ Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” referring to the 1997 film that featured Demi Moore with a shaven head. (Pinkett Smith, 50, was diagnosed with alopecia areata, which causes hair loss.)
Other sources added that other than Slabget, director Antoine Fuqua is still in the middle of post-production after several filming delays.
Apple bought the film rights for $105 million after Smith and Fuqua signed. Production was scheduled to begin in June 2021.
Aside from Covid delays, Emancipation was initially set to be filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, but Fuqua and Smith made the decision to move production over state laws restricting voter access in 2021.
Active Radio: In the slap fallout heard around the world, many of Smith’s projects together were either canceled or postponed
‘At this moment, the nation is coming to terms with its history and trying to eradicate the remnants of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,’ Smith and the film’s director said in a statement.
We cannot, in good conscience, provide economic support to a government that enacts reactionary voting laws designed to restrict voter access.
Georgia’s new voting laws remind us of the voting barriers that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Unfortunately, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.
In the slap fallout heard around the world, many of Smith’s projects together were either canceled or put on hold.
Netflix has announced a sequel to Smith’s 2017 action movie Bright, directed by David Ayer, according to a Bloomberg source — although they claim the cancellation has nothing to do with the slap.
The National Geographic Nature series, Pole to Pole that tracks the 53-year-old star to the north and south poles, and was scheduled to begin filming this, has been paused until fall 2022.
Additional projects Smith was lining up for that have come under attack, including a delayed Sony movie and another Netflix project for Fast and Loose.
Sony’s Bad Boys 4, which had begun in pre-production ahead of the awards ceremony, has also been delayed.
The backlash came as it was revealed this week that Smith “was going to therapy after the Oscars incident,” a source told Entertainment Tonight.
In addition, the actor will return to the public eye when he sits down for an interview with David Letterman later in the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on May 20.
However, fans hoping to hear the actor delve into the shocking moment will be disappointed, as Smith and Letterman, 75, recorded their interview earlier in the year, ahead of the Oscars.
Coming Soon: Plus, the actor will be back in the public eye when he sits down for an interview with David Letterman later on the Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction May 20