Will Smith’s ‘Emancipation’ Movie: Release Date Delayed, Cast & More

Will Smith is set to star in Apple's upcoming film 'Emancipation', but the movie was delayed after he slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Below is everything we know about the film.

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Image Credit: John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Will Smith, 53, plays the main character, Peter, in Apple’s upcoming movie, Emancipation. Although the movie has been highly anticipated, it has been delayed since Will famously slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars. Prior to that, the movie’s production was delayed due to positive COVID-19 tests on set in Aug. 2021, according to Deadline. There has been no official trailer released for the film at this time.

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, according to the movie’s IMDb page. At the time of publication, the film’s official rating is not known. Below is everything we know about Emancipation, Apple’s role in the release, and more!

Will Smith is set to star in the upcoming Apple Studios movie, ‘Emancipation’. (John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Shutterstock)

Release Delayed After Oscars Slap

On March 22, 2022, Will shockingly slapped Chris at the 94th Annual Academy Awards after Chris made a joke about Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, 51. The joke that Chris made was in reference to Jada’s hair loss, 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.

Although the King Richard star later apologized and even resigned from The Academy, Emancipation has still been 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 is yet to be determined. Apple Original Films did not publicly address the situation at the time, and has not as of this writing. When The New York Times reached out to Apple for comment on the film on Sept. 18, 2022, the company continued to decline to comment.

Where and When to Watch

Emancipation is expected to have a theatre release and will likely also be offered on Apple TV’s streaming service down the line. And as of Sept. 19, the studio’s decision on the release date remains in flux. However, the New York Post reported that several sources claim that the film could be released in late 2022, but some members of the team are still pushing a 2023 release. Check back here for updates on the film’s release date as more information comes to light. Apple Studios, along with Will’s production company, Westbrook Studios, are the distributors of the project.

Cast and Crew

will smith
Will Smith plays the role of Peter in the movie ‘Emancipation.’ (Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

Although there is not a great deal of information regarding Apple Studio’s movie, we do have some names of the cast! Along with Will, some other faces audiences can expect to see include: Luke Cage star Mustafa Shakir, Westworld’s Steven Ogg, Charmaine Bingwa, Grant Harvey, Ben Foster, and many more.

Mustafa will play the role of Andre Cailloux, Steven will take on the character Sergeant Howard, with Ben as the character of Fassel. Since no trailer has been released and the studio has kept a tight lid on much of the information, not much else is known at this time.

Who is the Creative Team?

Emancipation‘s creative team is quite impressive! Screen writer 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). Antoine Fuqua, who is known for the films Training Day, The Equalizer, and The Guilty is the director for this project.

Plot Information

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.

Filming Details

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.

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