Apple Original Films’ “Emancipation,” directed and executive produced by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “The Equalizer”) and starring and produced by Will Smith (“King Richard,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Ali”), will premiere in theaters on December 2, 2022, and globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, December 9, 2022. The announcement was made following an advance screening of “Emancipation” hosted together with the NAACP during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., where Fuqua, Smith and Mary Elliott, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, participated in a conversation about the film moderated by politics and culture commentator Angela Rye.
“Emancipation” tells the triumphant story of Peter (Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.