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.