Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Will Smith Returns In The New Trailer For Emancipation

Will Smith's career has taken a little bit of a hit lately, no pun intended. After the rapper-turned-actor famously slapped Oscar host Chris Rock in the middle of the televised ceremony for making a bald joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, Smith's popularity plummeted. According to Yahoo, in a poll conducted immediately after the awards ceremony, 37% of respondents said they viewed the star unfavorably, with that number rising by 10% between March 28th and April 4th. According to the New York Times, Smith was banned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 10 years, meaning that, even if the actor wins another Academy Award, he will not be able to attend the ceremony to receive it. And now, it looks like that scenario could be a distinct possibility.

In October, Apple announced both the theatrical (December 2nd) and streaming (December 9th) release dates for the new true-story period drama "Emancipation," starring Smith as an escaped slave who flees to the north. The film will be the actor's first since the slapping incident. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Antoine Fuqua directed the project, which Apple won in a fierce bidding war out of the Cannes Virtual Market in 2020. THR also interviewed members of the Academy who would potentially be voting on the film's possible nominations at the next Oscars about whether or not they would consider voting for Smith again following the incident. While the responses were very mixed, several potential voters said they would not vote for him, making the road to the Oscars a long and difficult one for "Emancipation."

The full-length trailer for "Emancipation" just dropped, but with all the controversy surrounding Smith right now, the responses have been mixed.

Can Emancipation erase the slap?

In the new trailer for "Emancipation," Will Smith is a slave who hears of freedom in the north. He faces treacherous obstacles as he escapes through the swamps to free territory, where he becomes a Union army member. The trailer ends with the iconic picture of the escaped man's scars on his back from being whipped, a picture that, according to the Met Museum, is now one of the most famous portraits of a slave from the Civil War era and became known as "The Scourged Back."

Fans on social media praised the film's trailer, but the infamous slap colored many of their opinions. In a thread responding to the trailer in the r/movies subreddit, u/The_G_89 wrote "I would love to see movies like this without Will Smith starring in it. There are other good Black actors out there that deserve/need the spotlight." Even people who appreciated the trailer couldn't talk about it without bringing up the Oscars incident. "I get that people don't like Will Smith (or Apple, for that matter), but this looks really good if I'm being honest," wrote u/sidslidkid. In response, u/slclark1981 quipped "Yeah, it'll be a slap in the face for the nay-sayers, when this turns out to be a good movie."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, director Antoine Fuqua defended his choice to move forward with the movie and with Will Smith as the star, saying, "Isn't 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?" Time will tell if viewers can look past the Oscars incident to appreciate the film when it comes out in December.