Emancipation Trailer Starring Will Smith Released by Apple TV

Apple TV+ has released the first teaser trailer for Emancipation, starring Will Smith as a runaway slave on the run to freedom. From filmmaker Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) and Apple Original Films (The Tragedy of Macbeth, CODA), Smith stars as "Whipper Peter," on a five-day trek through the swamps of Louisiana to reach Lincoln's army. "There are many ways to die in a swamp," a man warns Peter. "There are many ways to die here," responds Peter, who adds: "I will not be afraid. What can a mere man do to me?" Watch the trailer below.

Apple TV+ describes Emancipation: "Inspired by the gripping true story of a man who would do anything for his family — and for freedom. When Peter, an enslaved man, risks his life to escape and return to his family, he embarks on a perilous journey of love and endurance."

The film, which marks Smith's first feature debut since the infamous Oscars smack incident with Chris Rock, premieres in theaters December 2nd and is streaming on Apple TV+ December 9th.

"I was always saying that, as a filmmaker, you want your work out there, especially something this important," Fuqua told Deadline about Apple delaying Emancipation to 2023 in the fallout of Smith's Oscars drama, only to date the film for an awards season release this December. 

"It was Apple, behind the scenes, they were pushing that as well, trying to navigate through the waters," Fuqua explained. "They never stopped talking about releasing the film, and when would be best strategically. Apple would call me often, with Will, and I have to say Apple has been amazing through this whole film. We moved from Georgia to Louisiana, and they never blinked. We weathered hurricanes, Covid, all those things."

(Photo: Apple TV+)

Smith issued a public apology on social media condemning violence "in all of its forms" as "poisonous and destructive." Smith's statement read in part: "I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness." Though first reactions to Emancipation regard it as an Oscars contender, Smith received a ten-year ban for striking Rock and is prohibited from attending "any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards."

"Will Smith is a great guy," Fuqua told Deadline. "I was with him for a couple of years, making this movie. He is a wonderful person, an amazing partner, and he did an amazing job on this movie. Chris Rock's a good guy, I know Chris as well…and I just pray it works out for them as friends, and we can move forward."


Starring Will Smith, Ben Foster, Steven Ogg, Charmaine Bingwa, Gilbert Owuor, Grant Harvey, Jayson Warner Smith, Michael Luwoye, Ronnie Gene Blevins, and Mustafa Shakir, Emancipation is playing in theaters December 2nd and streaming on Apple TV+ December 9th.