Emancipation was shown to a group of influencers on Saturday night in Washington, D.C. by Apple Original Films. The Antoine Fuqua-helmed period drama/survival epic, which is based on real events, prompted a bidding battle between Warner Bros., Universal, MGM, and Lionsgate when it was packaged at the Cannes Film Market in 2020. Apple ultimately prevailed, and it appeared that they had a strong candidate for both award consideration and widespread public interest with an A-lister portraying the starring role of a runaway slave known as Whipped Peter who battled his way to freedom through the Louisiana marsh.
Emancipation stars Will Smith, who kind of-sorta lost his cool in a very public way earlier at the Academy Awards this year, striking comedian Chris Rock across the face and requesting that he stop talking about Jada Pinkett Smith. Of course, that was before “The Slap.” Fortunately for Smith, the small window following his assault on Rock and before anyone could decide how to react allowed him to win his Best Actor award for King Richard. The public may be able to separate Will Smith’s conduct from his performing, or they may not care at all, even if the actor resigned from the Academy and will not be allowed to attend the Oscars event for the next ten years.
Apple made a little test on Saturday, and the feedback was favourable. Derrick Johnson, the President and CEO of the NAACP wrote in a Twitter post, “I had the pleasure of watching the film #Emancipation and can’t begin to tell how powerful this is for OUR community and OUR history.” He continued, “It’s a story of adversity, of resilience, of love, and of triumph. Thank you Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith for sharing your gifts!” Angela T. Rye wrote, “#Emancipation is a powerful story not only rooted in our history, but also our resilience as a people. Thank you @willsmith @AntoineFuqua @AppleTVplus for telling stories that matter!”
Apple is obviously aware that they are dealing with a major motion picture. It’s unclear when they’ll really release this project, which was initially made with the upcoming awards season in mind.Smith admitted that throughout his entire career, he had avoided telling slave stories in his initial remarks about the film. Smith assured the audience that the movie was not about slavery.