Emancipation's Antoine Fuqua defends release of new Will Smith movie following Oscars slap

will smith, emancipation
Emancipation director defends Smith movie releaseApple TV+

Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua has defended the release of the new Will Smith movie in the wake of his Oscars controversy.

The actor infamously slapped presenter Chris Rock during the Academy Awards ceremony earlier this year, with the new Apple TV+ drama marking the actor's first project since the incident.

However, Fuqua has revealed that there were conversations over whether to still release the slavery drama this year following the controversy, though suggested the idea that it would be shelved altogether was "never" entertained.

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"It was always a full conversation with Apple," he explained to Vanity Fair. "They were very sensitive to myself, to Will, to all the people who worked on the movie.

"There was never a conversation with me and Apple or my producers, Todd Black and Jon Mone or Heather Washington, about the movie not coming out. It was more about, 'We’re assessing everything. We’re seeing what people are saying'.

Fuqua added that the team "were very careful about it", though when they screened the movie for some people, "their reactions were really positive, and we discussed it along the way".

will smith at the oscars
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"Of course I wanted people to see the film," he added, before defending Smith. "My conversation was always, 'Isn’t 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?'

"We were in Hollywood, and there’s been some really ugly things that have taken place, and we’ve seen a lot of people get awards that have done some really nasty things.

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"So I think Apple considered all those things, and we discussed a lot of those things. Then a decision was made by the people in charge of distribution and the money at Apple – and I’m grateful, I’m really grateful."

Emancipation focuses on Smith's character Peter, who embarks on a dangerous journey through the Louisiana swamps to escape slavery.

Following the slap, Smith was banned from the Oscars for 10 years, and the star later apologised to Rock.

Emancipation premieres on Apple TV+ on December 9.

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