The infamous Oscar slap continues to have far-reaching consequences for Will Smith. His upcoming film Emancipation was recently pushed from its 2022 release date to sometime in 2023 instead. This movie had a lot of Oscar-buzz leading up to its release, but the wake of the slap has caused quite a few Smith projects to be affected in some way or another.
Although the slap isn’t the official reason that Apple is giving for pushing the release of Emancipation, it could certainly be a major factor. With the Oscar buzz the film is receiving, they might want to let the memory of the controversy fade a little bit before they release it. If you somehow missed the news of the slap, it involved Will Smith and Chris Rock at the recent Academy Awards. Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face after the latter made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. Will Smith has been banned from attending the Oscars and other Academy-related events for the next ten years.
There are other factors besides the Will Smith slap that could affect the release of Emancipation. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) is the director of the film and is still in the post-production process. It’s always possible that editing and other post-production work are taking longer than expected. The movie did already face several delays before the release push. Initially, the movie was delayed when production was moved from Georgia to Louisana in protest of voting restrictions. Hurricane Ida caused delays in the new production location and then the COVID-19 pandemic caused even more delays. In short, the team behind Emancipation is not unfamiliar with pushing back timelines at this point.
Emancipation is produced by Apple, which recently won the coveted Best Picture Oscar for their film CODA. If they want to win again for Emancipation, they might want to separate it from other high-profile releases they have before the next awards ceremony so they don’t split the vote. The winner of the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award Cha Cha Real Smooth releases later this year along with The Greatest Beer Run Ever which is director Peter Farrelly’s first film since the Oscar-winning Green Book. Martin Scorsese’s The Killers of the Flower Moon is also going to be an Apple release, but that film currently doesn’t have a date.
Emancipation, when it is finally released, will star Will Smith as a runaway slave who escapes into the swamps of Louisana. He must evade the plantation owners who nearly killed him to find his freedom. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Bill Collage. In addition to Smith, the film also stars Ben Foster, Steven Ogg, Mustafa Shakir, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Grant Harvey, Aaron Moten, Charmaine Bingwa, and more. Will Smith recently won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in King Richard where he played the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. Unlike some other Smith projects, Emancipation still has a planned release, so we should be seeing it in 2023.