Sunday, November 28, 2021

Apple and Warner Bros in Bidding War Over Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Emancipation’ Starring Will Smith

Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith

*Warner Bros, Apple, MGM, Lionsgate and Universal are among the studios in a bidding war at the virtual Cannes Film Festival over the world rights to the film “Emancipation.”

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film stars Will Smith as a real-life historical figure named Peter, who was a “runaway slave forced to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey North where he joined the Union Army,” per Deadline

Here’s more from the outlet about what’s going down at Cannes: 

I hear Apple has the edge, but the auction isn’t over. On Wednesday, Deadline reported that the bidding was above $75 million with Warner Bros, Apple, scrapping with five other companies in the mix, but now it’s down to two and I expect a resolution before the weekend.

The story of Peter was also fueled by an indelible image, after he showed his bare back during an Army medical examination. The photos taken of the scars from a whipping delivered by an overseer on the plantation got published and seen around the world in 1863. 

The picture gave the abolitionist cause indisputable proof of the cruelty of slavery in America, and when the photo reached around the world, legend has it that it made countries like France refuse to buy cotton from the South. The photo, commonly called The Scourged Back, solidified the cause of abolitionists and the rest of the world against slavery and prompted many free blacks to join the Union Army.

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Fuqua noted that the photograph was “the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw,” which is interesting, when you put it into perspective with today and social media and what the world is seeing, again. You can’t fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way. We all have to look for a brighter future for us all, for everyone. That’s one of the most important reasons to do things right now, is show our history. We have to face our truth before we can move forward.”

The film will channel that historical background to take viewers on thrill ride with Peter as he escapes his captors. 

“It hit my heart and my soul in so many ways that are impossible to convey but I think you understand,” Fuqua told Deadline. “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,” he said.

Adding “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,” Fuqua explained.

“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.”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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