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Will Smith’s Emancipation Pushed to 2023

The Apple drama starring the Oscar-winner as an escaped slave will now be released in 2023.

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Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

It appears Will Smith isn’t getting out of Hollywood jail anytime soon. With a number of his projects being postponed and canceled, Variety reports that his next major film release has been pushed back to 2023.

Emancipation, produced by Smith’s Westbrook Entertainment and Apple, was set to hit the festival circuit this fall before getting a big awards push. Based on a true story, the film stars the King Richard actor as escaped slave Peter. The publication of his injuries from being whipped by a plantation overseer inspired the abolitionist movement. Rumors are that Smith delivered another great performance and the studio was set for another awards season run.

Smith has become an outsider in the entertainment industry since he slapped Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards. Literally minutes before winning for Best Actor, Smith took offense at a joke the comedian made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, stormed the stage, slapped the hell out of Rock, then returned to his seat and yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” The incident resulted in the Men in Black star being banned from The Oscars and all other Academy events for 10 years.

In the midst of all the post-slap, pearl-clutching takes, the Bad Boys star has had a Disney+ Nat Geo documentary postponed, a Netflix sequel and stand-up comedy series officially canceled and finds himself currently bumped off the A-list.


Though it’s clear “the slap” definitely played a part in Emancipation being postponed, the film has suffered various production delays, which leads some to believe director Antoine Fuqua could be running behind on post-production. The difficulties include moving from Georgia to Louisiana following the passing of Georgia’s racist voter suppression laws, damage from Hurricane Ida and of course COVID-19.

As for how long Smith remains in Hollywood jail, that’s anybody’s guess. However, it feels like he’s going to have to go on a redemption tour similar to Robert Downey Jr., where he takes on smaller roles to prove he’s still a reliable draw. Perhaps he’ll return to fan-favorite franchises like Bad Boys or Suicide Squad? Once he reminds everyone of the charming Fresh Prince they fell in love with, he can once again be a box office superstar.