Apple Delays New Will Smith Movie Due to Chris Rock Slapping Controversy

Apple has reportedly delayed the release of Emancipation, an upcoming movie starring Will Smith, following the recent controversy surrounding him slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. While the film did not have an official release date, it was originally expected to be released sometime this fall, but is now believed to be "the unspoken truth" that the film will debut sometime in 2023. According to a new report from Variety, there have seemingly been ongoing discussions around potentially releasing it in the fall, but it is "highly unlikely." 

Emancipation, which is directed by Antoine Fuqua, follows Peter (played by Smith), a slave who escapes from a Louisiana after being whipped nearly to death. Peter outwits cold-blooded hunters led by Fassel, as he makes his way North, where he joins the Union Army. The film is based on the true story of an escaped slave named Gordon. Photographs of his bare back, heavily scourged from an overseer's whippings, were published worldwide in 1863, giving the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of American slavery.

The film was poised to be the first theatrical release for Smith following the controversy, with some sources believing that it could have potentially led to the actor winning back-to-back Oscars, following his Best Actor win this year for King Richard. The report cites both the controversy surrounding the slap, as well as previous production delays and an already-full fall slate of films for Apple, as potential reasons behind the move.

One of the production delays occurred when the film moved its production to Louisiana, in protest of Georgia's voting restriction laws.

"At this moment in time, the nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice," the filmmakers said in a joint statement at the time. "We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state."

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