Apple Original Films revealed today the trailer for highly anticipated film “Emancipation,” directed and executive produced by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “The Equalizer”) and starring and produced by Will Smith (“King Richard,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Ali”). “Emancipation” tells the triumphant story of Peter (Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom.
The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.
Director Fuqua warned the readers of Vanity Fair that the film should not be viewed in terms of Smith’s outburst against Oscar presenter Chris Rock earlier this year. “The film to me is bigger than that moment,” Fuqua said. “Four hundred years of slavery is bigger than one moment.”
He added, “My hope is that people will see it that way and watch the movie and be swept away with the great performance by Will and all the real hard work that the whole crew did.”
Fuqua director also noted that “as a filmmaker, I wasn’t out looking for a slave movie; I never saw ‘Emancipation’ as a slave movie.” Instead, the film is rooted in “sacred motivation” and the pursuit of freedom in both physical and spiritual senses. “It was a story about triumph,” the “Equalizer” director continued.
“Emancipation” is directed by Antoine Fuqua, from a script by William N. Collage. The film is produced by Will Smith and Jon Mone through Westbrook Studios, Joey McFarland though McFarland Entertainment and Todd Black through Escape Artists. Chris Brigham, Antoine Fuqua, James Lassiter, Heather Washington, Cliff Roberts, Glen Basner and Scott Greenberg are executive producing.
The film will premiere in theaters on December 2, 2022, and globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, December 9, 2022.