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Why Will Smith’s Movie ‘Emancipation’ Is Delayed and Shifting to 2023

Edduin Carvajal
May 09, 2022
03:40 P.M.

Will Smith might be one of Hollywood's biggest superstars, but he could not prevent his film "Emancipation" from being delayed. His performance reportedly was worth another Oscar.


The Smith family patriarch's controversial Oscar slap significantly affected his career as the ramification of his actions unfolded and it became a much-talked-about topic since.

Will Smith's movie "Emancipation" was to be released in Fall 2022, but Apple TV pushed it to 2023 despite the multinational technology company's high expectations. The reason is simple: Smith and Chris Rock's headline-grabbing Oscar incident.

Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in April 13, 1994. | Source: Getty Images

Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in April 13, 1994. | Source: Getty Images


The 2022 Oscars will go down in history as the most controversial award ceremony after the world saw Will Smith slapping Chris Rock in front of their fellow actors.


Rock was the event's host and cracked some jokes at the attendees' expense. Things took an unexpected turn when he compared Jada Pinkett-Smith to Demi Moore's "G.I. Jane" for her shaved haircut, and Smith didn't appreciate it.

Will Smith on September 15, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images

Will Smith on September 15, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images

Pinkett-Smith has been candid about her struggles with alopecia, and her husband considered Rock's joke distasteful. Smith then slapped Rock and shouted, "Keep my wife's name out of your [expletive] mouth," from his seat.

A day after the ceremony, Smith, who won the Best Actor Award, posted an apology on Instagram. He described his emotional reaction and behavior as "unacceptable and inexcusable" and admitted to being a work in progress.



After the slap, things turned sour for Will Smith, with some even claiming that his career was "mortally wounded." Although the Academy did not take his Oscar away, Smith voluntarily resigned his Oscar membership.

Smith's performance was so good he could have won the Oscar for Best Actor back-to-back.

A few days after the incident, the Academy apologized and banned Smith from the Oscars ceremony and other related events for ten years.


They made that decision to protect future performers and guests and to restore "trust" in what is supposed to be Hollywood's biggest event. The Academy also thanked Chris Rock for remaining calm given the circumstances.

If being banned from the Academy Awards was not bad enough, Will Smith's movie "Emancipation" was also delayed to 2023, proving that Apple TV does not want to be linked to Smith in 2022.



The action-drama film produced by Smith's company Westbrook Studios follows Peter (Smith), a runaway slave trying to escape his plantation owners in Louisiana and join the Union Army.

Variety pointed out that "Emancipation" was Apple TV's potential awards project. An anonymous filmmaker reportedly saw early footage and said Smith's performance was so good he could have won the Oscar for Best Actor back-to-back.

Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") directed the movie based on a true story. Peter's story solidified abolitionists' cause, and a photo of his hurt back became the first viral image of slavery's brutality. We'll need to wait until 2023 to watch it.

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