Will Smith has gotten some severe backlash from the Oscar slap incident. A vast majority of his projects have been pushed back or put on hold including Bad Boys 4, I am Legend 2, and Fast and Loose. But, there is one project that did push through, Emancipation.
Apple TV+ released the first trailer for the upcoming historical action thriller Emancipation and it has gotten the internet buzzing. Smith underwent a physical transformation, cutting down weight to portray the lead character.
Emancipation is inspired by a true story where Smith plays Peter, a Louisiana plantation slave who escapes captivity after being nearly whipped to death. He makes an epic journey across the state to join the Union army while trying to evade hunters who are hot on his trail.
According to the caption for the trailer on Will Smith’s Youtube channel, Emancipation "was the hardest movie I’ve ever made. Blood, Sweat & Tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world."
The film takes inspiration from the story of Gordon or Whipped Peter. Photographs of his scarred back became one of the most widely distributed images during the Civil War and inspired many free African-Americans to join the Union Army.
Emancipation is directed by Antoine Fuqua who previously worked in movies such as The Equalizer, Olympus has Fallen, and Shooter. The script was written by Bill Collage who also wrote the screenplay for Assassin’s Creed, Tower Heist, and Allegiant.
The movie encountered several delays during production. One cause of the delay was the infamous Oscars incident involving Smith. The actor was sanctioned by the Motion Picture Academy with a ten-year ban from attending the Academy Awards and related events.
Production of the film was moved from Georgia to Louisiana after the state passed the controversial Election Integrity Act of 2021. Smith and Fuqua made a joint statement saying "we cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access."
Emancipation held a screening for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Smith and Fuqua were in attendance and participated in a conversation about the film.
Insiders have dubbed the film a strong contender for Best Picture at the Oscars and many believe that Emancipation will get a nomination from the award-giving body.
The Fabelmans is the current favorite for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Insiders have also mentioned that Avatar: The Way of the Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will also be strong contenders for the award.
As for Will Smith’s prospects of having back-to-back Best Actor nominations, his chances are quite slim due to the altercation with Chris Rock during the previous Academy Awards. There are reports that a faction of the Academy voters believe Smith should be excluded from contention indefinitely.
Emancipation will be opening in theaters on December 2 for one week. It will then premiere on Apple TV+ on December 9.