Will Smith's new film Emancipation gets December release from Apple TV+ ahead of awards season

Apple TV+ has set a release date for Emancipation, Will Smith's next big film after his Oscar-winning role in King Richard.

The historical thriller, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer), will open in theaters Dec. 2 and be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Dec. 9, just in time for awards season. In the movie, Smith stars as a runaway slave who forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a treacherous journey to reunite with his family.

The fate of the film, along with a number of Smith's other projects, was up in the air following the infamous and relentlessly discussed 2022 Oscars slap, when Smith walked on stage during the ceremony and assaulted presenter Chris Rock after the latter made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

As a result, the Academy banned Smith from Oscars ceremonies for 10 years. Should the actor garner Oscars buzz for his role in Emancipation, he would not be able to attend the ceremony. Regardless, the film has already received rave reviews at special advanced screenings, including one hosted by Apple with the NAACP during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 51st Annual Legislative Conference over the weekend.

Emancipation Will Smith
Emancipation Will Smith

Apple TV+ Will Smith in 'Emancipation'

Smith, who has kept a low profile since the Oscars incident, participated in a conversation with Fuqua and Mary Elliott, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, following the screening.

"Throughout my career, I've turned down many films that were set in slavery," he said. "I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith."

Derrick Johnson, CEO and president of the NAACP, called the film "a story of adversity, of resilience, of love, and of triumph."

Watch the trailer for Emancipation above.

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