Apple Original Films has announced that Emancipation starring Will Smith is set to be released on December 2, 2022 in theaters, followed by a December 9 release on Apple TV+. The film is Smith’s first role since his Oscars win in February 2022. Emancipation tells the story of Peter (Will Smith), an escaped slave, who has to rely on his wits and love for his family as he wades through treacherous territory and tries to evades his enslavers and hunters on his quest for freedom.
The film is inspired by the 1863 photographs taken during a Union Army medical examination of “Whipped Peter,” which first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” shows Peter’s mutilated back from lashes he received from the whip of his enslavers. The images sparked outrage and increased public opposition to slavery.
The first screening of the film was held by Apple and the NAACP as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Legislative Conference. Smith, along with director Antoine Fuqua, attended the screening and had a Q&A session with the audience.
Smith also took to Instagram to share his excitement about his latest film.
“This was the hardest movie I’ve ever made,” his post read. “Blood, Sweat & Tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world,” he shared on IG.