Apple has won the rights to the upcoming slavery film, Emancipation, starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua.
The film’s rights were up for bidding at the recent Cannes Market, which was virtual this year.
According to Deadline, this is “the largest film festival acquisition deal in film history is now closed.” After initially having seven bidders, it came down to just Apple and Warner Bros.
“Sources said the commitment comes in at $105 million net, but when backend gross buyouts are factored in, deal is north of $120 million,” states the report.
Smith will star in the film as Peter, known as “Whipped Peter,” a real-life enslaved person who escaped recapturing to join the Union Army. After a photo of his back was published in 1863, the number of scars he endured during slavery became a lightning rod for the abolitionist movement, showcasing to the country the horrors of the practice.
Fuqua explained to Deadline why he believes this is an important story to tell right now: It hit my heart and my soul in so many ways that are impossible to convey but I think you understand. We’re watching some of the feeling that I had, in the streets right now. There’s sadness, there’s anger, there’s love, faith and hope as well because of what I see young people doing today. They’re doing all the heavy lifting now. Black, white, brown, yellow, you name it. They’re out in the street, they’re young, and they’re standing up for their future. That’s important to see, and the most hopeful thing that I’m seeing, that they’re not going to stand for it anymore. I had all those feelings with I read the script. As a filmmaker, everything I’ve done up to this point in my life, and not just filmmaking but living as a black man in this country, having my own issues, and then having children and a family and being married. It hit home, because this is at heart a film about family, about love. Faith, the idea that Peter never gave up and he fought tooth and nail to get back to his family. That is an important story to tell. The slavery and the brutality, most people are familiar with it. People who care to know about it are familiar with it. I found it brutal and I found it entertaining in a way because of the journey it took me on, Peter’s journey. What’s amazing about it is, this is based on fact and deep research.” That includes, Fuqua said, diaries that Peter kept.
Studios Are Bidding As High As $130M For Will Smith’s ‘Emancipation’ Film On Runaway Enslaved Person
‘Emancipation’: Will Smith To Star In Film On Runaway Enslaved Person