Will Smith’s Emancipation won't premiere on Apple TV+ before 2023

Will Smith’s Emancipation won’t premiere on Apple TV+ before 2023

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Will Smith
Will Smith's personal problems struck a blow to his upcoming Apple TV+ film Emancipation.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple has reportedly decided to push back the premiere of Emancipation. Insider sources that leaked the change did not say the delay of the historical drama staring Will Smith was the result of “The Slap,” but Smith’s shocking outburst at this year’s Academy Awards show almost certainly had to be a factor.

Emancipation is based on the real-life story of a man named Peter, whose saga of escaping slavery made headlines around the world in 1863.

We’ll be waiting for Emancipation

Apple TV+ took home the Best Picture Oscar for CODA – the first time a streaming service ever won that award – and clearly hoped to do so again with Emancipation. Then Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, which got Smith banned from attending Oscars ceremonies for 10 years.

That forced Apple to decide what to do with its movie starring Smith that it paid $120 million for.

And the decision is apparently delay. Emancipation was expected to debut on Apple TV+ in 2022, but Variety now reports the release has been pushed back to “sometime in 2023.”

That said, it’s not apparently certain that the film could have debuted in 2022, slap or no slap. It ran into significant  delays in filming and is still in post-production.

Also, Variety reports that Apple might have decided to hold back the historical drama in favor of other films for which it also has 2022 Oscars hopes, including Martin Scorsese’s The Killers of the Flower Moon as well as Cha Cha Real Smooth.

A good story could be lost in the shuffle

While most people might not realize they’ve heard of Peter, the subject of Emancipation, a glance at his picture in the Library of Congress could remind them. His back, scarred from brutal whippings, was photographed after he escaped slavery in Louisiana in 1863. Seen around the world, the photo demonstrated the cruelty of slavery in the United States (and later the Confederacy). Some schools still use the shocking image for that same purpose.

Emancipation on Apple TV+ will tell Peter’s story, including how he escaped to freedom and joined the Union Army.