Apple Considers Releasing Controversial Will Smith Film After Oscars Slap

( Apple is reportedly an intense internal debate over releasing a film featuring Will Smith after the controversial slap heard around the world, according to Mediaite. Apple paid over $120 million for the distribution rights to Emancipation, a film telling the tale of a slave who escaped being nearly whipped to death and joined the Union Army.

After delays caused by the pandemic and hurricanes, the film is finally complete, but the company is uncertain whether the release of the film will be well received. After slapping Chris Rock over a joke the comedian made about his wife, Smith has given up his membership to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, where he was banned from attending the group’s events and the Oscars for a decade.

Apple is engaged in an intense debate over the perks and cons of releasing the film, according to The New York Times media and entertainment reporter Nicole Sperling. If the film is released by the end of this year it will be eligible for awards, but if the company waits until 2023 they might hope for the frenzy to die down.

How the public will react plays a major part of this decision, as three people involved in the film explain.

“Should the company postpone a film based on an important historical subject because its leading man is too toxic? Or does Apple release the movie and watch the outcome unfold? Audiences could be turned off by Mr. Smith’s presence, perhaps taking some gloss off the well-polished Apple brand. Or they could respond positively to the film, prompting an Oscar campaign, which could then upset members of the academy.”

Some in the film industry reportedly fear that the release will anger academy voters and Oscar contenders who were embarrassed by Smith’s actions. There has also been miscommunication between Apple and the film marketing unit. “Skimpy ad spends” reportedly caused dissatisfaction in Hollywood.