Apple TV+ film Emancipation reportedly moving to 2023 release after Will Smith slap incident

Apple TV+ film Emancipation reportedly moving to 2023 release after Will Smith slap incident

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Heading into 2022, Apple TV+ was preparing to fill its original film slate with a major blockbuster original film, ‘Emancipation’, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Will Smith.

However, as part of the ongoing fallout from Smith deciding to assault Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, it now appears that the film’s release has been delayed to 2023 according to a report from Variety.

Although Apple has never officially given a release timeframe to Emancipation before, it was widely expected to be one of Apple’s awards darlings for the upcoming circuit, with a release in the fall.

This follows Apple Original Film’s achievement of getting Best Picture recognition within its first two years of eligibility, making Apple TV+ the first streaming service ever to pick up the Oscar’s highest accolade.

Emancipation had a good chance at continuing that streak, at least until Smith lost his temper at the Oscars and slapped presenter Chris Rock mid-show, in front of millions of viewers, in a move so left-field many people originally thought it was a bit. As soon as that happened, the awards prospects for Emancipation — particularly whilst the incident remains in recent memory — evaporated.

Smith himself is now banned from attending future Oscars events for the next decade, although he can theoretically still be nominated.

Variety says that post-production on the film is still ongoing, which is another possible factor as to the schedule pushback. However, most likely, Apple wants to wait a year and hope Smith’s reputation has recovered somewhat by fall 2023, to give Emancipation its best shot at being positively received by audiences and critics. It spent over $100 million on producing the film, after all.

What is good news for Apple is that it has a lot more awards contender movies on its upcoming slate, including ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’, ‘Raymond and Ray’, ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’, and its first ever animated feature ‘Luck’. The $200m Martin Scorsese directed ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is also expected to make waves when it is released, although it remains unclear if that film will finish post-production in time for a 2022 debut.

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