Will Smith Runs to Freedom in Emancipation Trailer

By Rebecca Theodore-Vachon 

Will Smith is back to work, and will star in the upcoming Apple Original Film, Emancipation.

Emancipation is based on the real life story of “Whipped Peter,” a man who escaped from slavery, relying on his wits and faith and love for his family to evade bounty hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film will premiere in theaters on Friday, December 2, and globally on Apple TV+ the following Friday, Dec. 9.

Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) directs with a screenplay by William N. Collage. Smith and Jon Mone serve as producers through Westbrook Studios along with Joey McFarland Entertainment and Todd Black through Escape Artists.


Emancipation is Smith’s first major role since he made headlines for slapping comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony. While Smith ended up winning the Oscar that evening for his work on King Richard, the ensuing controversy led to Smith resigning from the Academy. The Academy in turn, has banned Smith from attending all Academy events including the Oscars for 10 years.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Fuqua defended the release of Emancipation. Fuqua said, ““Of course I wanted people to see the film. My conversation was always, ‘Isn’t 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?’ We were in Hollywood, and there’s been some really ugly things that have taken place, and we’ve seen a lot of people get awards that have done some really nasty things. So, I think Apple considered all those things, and we discussed a lot of those things. Then, a decision was made by the people in charge of distribution and the money at Apple — and I’m grateful. I’m really grateful.”