Will Smith's Oscar slap didn't derail Emancipation's release, says director

“Emancipation” is an Apple Original Film premiering in theaters December 2, 2022 and globally on Apple TV+ on December 9, 2022.
“Emancipation” is an Apple Original Film premiering in theaters December 2, 2022 and globally on Apple TV+ on December 9, 2022. (Image credit: Apple)

Emancipation was always coming to theaters and Apple TV Plus despite Will Smith's conduct at the Oscars.

In an interview with Variety, director Antoine Fuqua talked about the fallout of Smith slapping Chris Rock at the awards show but pushed back against the idea that the incident should stop the film from being released. Fuqua said that "the film to me is bigger than that moment. Four hundred years of slavery is bigger than one moment. 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.”

The director went on to say that, while he had a "full" conversation with Apple the company never considered not releasing the film. Fuqua said that, despite the incident, "Apple considered all those things, and we discussed a lot of those things. Then a decision was made by the people in charge of distribution and the money at Apple — and I’m grateful, I’m really grateful.”

What is Emancipation about?

The film, which stars Smith and is directed by Fuqua, tells the story of "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."

As Apple details, "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."

You can watch the official teaser trailer on YouTube below:

Emancipation will premiere in theaters on Friday, December 2, and globally on Apple TV Plus on Friday, December 9. If you want to enjoy the movie in the best quality possible, check out our review of the Apple TV 4K and our list of the Best TVs for Apple TV 2022.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.