Saturday, May 18, 2024

“Emancipation” Proclamation: Will Smith Movie in Dozen Theaters Friday as Star Begs for Hollywood to Take Him Back


Exclusive: “Emancipation,” the $120 million Will Smith-Apple movie, comes to theaters this Friday. I’m told it will play in just 12 locations. Then, on December 9th, it goes to 200 theaters and debuts on Apple TV Plus.

Apple is trying everything to save this movie after the star’s famous on stage slap of Chris Rock at last spring’s Oscars. Smith is going hat in hand to every talk show, begging for absolution. Will it work? The Academy suspended him for 10 years. He’s never really apologized, he hasn’t made amends with Chris Rock, and so far hasn’t actually been “punished” for a whole year. It’s hard to imagine Academy voters falling over themselves to welcome him back so quickly.

Then there’s the question of the movie. Almost no one has seen “Emancipation.” a black and white movie in the vein of “12 Years a Slave.” Tomorrow Apple is screening it in Los Angeles, so reviews will pop at the last minute. That’s not a good sign. So far it looks like one of Smith’s preachier films– he’s famous for them. So regardless of Smith’s semi-contrition tour. “Emancipation” may just end up being a hit on Apple TV Plus, and that’s it.

Stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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