Apple is delaying the release of Will Smith’s next film, Emancipation, in the wake of his now infamous slapping of Chris Rock during the Oscars, it was revealed on Friday.
Apple Original Films and Smith’s own Westbrook Studios is behind the upcoming drama which was expected to premiere this year, but sources say there is an ‘unspoken truth’ that the movie won’t come out until 2023,’ Variety reported.
The Antoine Fuqua directed movie was already getting awards buzz prior to this year’s Oscars but Smith’s on-camera assaulting of Chris Rock sent the studio into damage control.
Backlash: Apple is delaying the release of Will Smith’s next film, Emancipation, in the wake of his now infamous slapping of Chris Rock during the Oscars, it was revealed on Friday
Emancipation, sees Smith portraying a runaway slave named Peter, which is based off a true story from an 1863 photo titled The Scourged Back.
The image, according to History.com, depicts Peter showing off a heavily scarred back after a treacherous journey to freedom. (The photo, which was in Harper’s Weekly in July of 1863, was critical in changing the beliefs of white Northerners looking to abolish slavery.)
The 53-year-old’s performance was expected to earn him an Oscar nod – but that was prior to the 2022 ceremony where he slapped Chris Rock on stage.
A source told Variety that ‘it’s the unspoken truth’ the historical drama – which would have been Smith’s first following the ordeal – will not come out until some time in 2023.
Shelved: Apple Original Films and Smith’s own Westbrook Studios is behind the upcoming drama which was expected to premiere this year, but sources say there is an ‘unspoken truth’ that the movie won’t come out until 2023,’ Variety reported
The outlet added that there are discussions behind closed doors about how to or if Will Smith should be involved in promoting the film.
The Oscars exchange between Smith and Rock took place after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, ‘Jada, I love you, GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,’ in reference to the 1997 movie which featured Demi Moore with a shaved head. (Pinkett Smith, 50, has diagnosed with alopecia, which causes hair loss.)
Other sources added that, aside from Slapgate, director Antoine Fuqua is still in the middle of post production following several shooting delays.
Apple bought the rights to the movie for $105million after Smith and Fuqua had signed on. It was due to begin production in June 2021.
Aside from Covid delays, Emancipation had been initially set to be filmed in Atlanta, Georgia but Fuqua and Smith made the decision to move production over the state’s laws restricting voter access in 2021.
Radio active: In the fallout from the slap heard round the world, several of Smith’s projects have either been canceled all together or shelved
In a statement, Smith and the film’s director said: ‘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.
‘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,’ the pair said.
In the fallout from the slap heard round the world, several of Smith’s projects have either been canceled all together or shelved.
Netflix canned the sequel to Smith’s 2017 action film Bright, directed by David Ayer, according to a Bloomberg source – though they claimed the cancellation was unrelated to the slap.
His National Geographic nature series, Pole to Pole which follows the 53-year-old star to the North and South Poles, and was set to begin filming this, has also been paused until fall 2022.
Additional Smith projects had lined up that have been getting smacked down, include a movie for Sony that has been delayed and another Netflix project for the Fast and Loose.
The Sony film, Bad Boys 4, which had started pre-production before the awards ceremony, was also put on hold.
The backlash came as it was revealed this week that Smith, ‘has been going to therapy after the Oscars incident,’ a source told Entertainment Tonight.
Additionally, the actor will be back in the public eye when he sits down for an interview with David Letterman later on his Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on May 20.
However, fans hoping to hear the actor delve into the shocking moment will be disappointed, as Smith and Letterman, 75, taped their interview earlier in the year, prior to the Oscars.
Coming soon: Additionally, the actor will be back in the public eye when he sits down for an interview with David Letterman later on his Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on May 20