UPDATE: The latest report says that the bid is now down to the wire between Apple and Warner Bros. Apple apparently "has the edge," in a battle with $130 million bids -- presumably the highest total for an acquisition out of a festival or film market.
Antoine Fuqua's Emancipation, starring Will Smith, is one of the hotly sought-after projects in Hollywood, according to Variety.
Deadline reports that Warner Bros. MGM, Lionsgate, Apple and Universal are all in a bidding war over the film, starring Smith as Peter, better known as "Whipped Peter," a slave who escapes recapture to the Union Army. The amount of scars he endured during slavery became a lightning rod for the abolitionist movement, showcasing to the country the horrors of the practice.
The bidding is reported as being as high as $75 million as the studios vie for the film at the virtual Cannes market.
Smith will produce the film through his Westbrook Studios, alongside Smith, James Lassiter. McFarland Entertainment’s Joey McFarland and Escape Artists’ Todd Black will also produce. Fuqua will executive produce through his Fuqua Films, along with Cliff Roberts. CAA Media Finance arranged the film's financing and is repping the U.S. rights.
Production for Emancipation will start early 2021.