With the acquisition of the Will Smith starrer and Antoine Fuqua directed movie, Emancipation, Apple has managed to create history for the largest film festival acquisition deal.
The Willam N Collage scripted thriller is about a runaway slave, Peter who outwits his hunters and braves the swamps of Louisiana before reaching North where he joins the Union Army.
According to Deadline, when the film was brought to market as the signature film in the Virtual Cannes market, there were seven bidders but the race came down to Apple and Warner Bros. The deal comes down to $120 million and the film will premiere in theatres before it is released worldwide on Apple TV +.
The story of Peter is attached to a powerful image – that of his terribly scarred back which he revealed during an Army medical examination. The photo was published in 1863 and caused massive outrage, the scars having been caused by a whipping Peter received from an overseer on the plantation he was working on.
“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. 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.”