Apple Pays Huge Amount for Will Smith Runaway Slave Movie ‘Emancipation’

Warner Bros.

Apple is determined to take on the likes of Netflix and Amazon in the streamer-to-prestige-movie-studio game – and they’re clearly willing to fork out the big bucks to do so.

Apple Studios has closed a deal that reportedly passes the $US120 million mark to acquire Emancipation, a true story action-thriller set to star Will Smith as a runaway slave. As we reported on in June, the film is set to be directed by Antoine Fuqua, known for Training Day, Shooter, and The Equalizer, among other films, and will be written by William N. Collage.

Deadline broke the news of Apple’s pricey buy, reporting that it’s the largest acquisition deal to ever take place at the Cannes fest. The bidding took place at the Virtual Cannes market, where seven studios battled it out for the film, with Warner Bros. and Apple the last two standing before the latter took it.

Smith will be among the producers of the film, which is said to be an action-thriller more in the vein of Apocalypto than a drama such as 12 Years a Slave. The real-life former slave was Gordon, also known as “Whipped Peter” – due to the images of his scarred back that made a big impact in the abolition movement. The film will follow his escape from a horrifying plantation, attempting to outmanoeuvre cold-blooded hunters and their bloodhounds, as well having to survive treacherous swamps, in order to make it north to the Union army.

In the movie realm, Emancipation marks yet another big get for Apple. In March the tech company jumped on Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which is set to star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro – and will cost over $US180 million to make.

Antoine Fuqua directing ‘Southpaw’ | Roadshow Films

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