Will Smith Pulls ‘Emancipation’ Film Out Of Georgia Due To New Voting Laws

It looks like the controversial voting laws recently passed in Georgia are now impacting its film industry.

Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua are pulling their upcoming Apple movie, Emancipation, out of Georgia due to the voting laws. It was scheduled to start filming in the state on June 21.

Fuqua and Smith released a joint statement…

At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice. We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.

No word on what state they have chosen. For those who don’t remember, Apple purchased rights to the project for around $125 million last year.

This story is described as a passion project for both Smith and Fuqua.

The film is based on William N. Collage’s script about ‘Whipped Peter,’ who was an actual enslaved person who emancipated himself from a Southern plantation and joined the Union Army. When the Army doctor examined Peter, he discovered terrible scars from numerous whippings over the years, and the subsequent photos that were published made shockwaves around the country, with one image becoming known as ‘The Scourged Back.’

Apple Studios Land Will Smith/Antoine Fuqua Thriller ‘Emancipation’ For Record $120 Million Deal

Something pretty incredible went down in the Virtual Cannes market. A bidding war over Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua’s runaway slave thriller ‘Emancipation’ went on for a solid week.

Several studios were trying to land this film, and it eventually came down to Warner Bros. and Apple Studios. In the end, it was Apple who landed the project with a $105 million bid, which will come out closer to $120 million when backend gross buyouts are factored in.

Bill Collage, the writer of the script, is reportedly being paid mid seven figures, which is absolutely incredible. It’s almost unheard of in today’s climate for a writer to make over $500,000 on a script, let alone $3 or $4 million.

[The script is] centered on a runaway slave named Peter, who escaped to the Union Army during the Civil War and outwitted bounty hunters over 10 days through the Louisiana swamps, masking his scent with onions. Army photos taken of Peter showing the scars on his back from being whipped were published in 1863 and became known as the ‘scourged back’ photos, which became a means to illustrate the cruelty of slavery.

Production on this film is expected to begin in early 2021. No release date has been scheduled, but we’ll keep you posted.

Will Smith Set To Star In “Runaway Slave” Thriller ‘Emancipation’

Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua are teaming up together for the thriller ‘Emancipation‘ this according to a report from Variety.

According to the report, Fuqua will direct the script, which is based on the true story of Peter, a runaway slave ” forced to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the punishing Louisiana swamp on a tortuous journey to the Union Army and his only chance at freedom.”

Smith will have the leading role in the movie, which is scheduled to start production in early 2021. Both Fuqua and Smith were in the middle of filming separate projects when the pandemic happened.

Fuqua was in post-production on Paramount’s action-thriller ‘Infinite‘ and Smith was in the middle of filming the tennis biopic, King Richard, for Warner Bros.

We’re assuming they will finish those projects before moving to this new film. I guess the plan is to restart the productions listed above sometime this fall/winter.

It must be difficult for an actor to pause a performance, you know? You’re in character. In the middle of filming, and then you’re forced to shut everything down for 4-5 months? How do you keep the character close to you?

I don’t know, but Smith is a legend, so we’re sure he has it figured out.