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Will Smith's "Emancipation" makes history with record-breaking deal

Writer: Florey DM

 Cheers to Will Smith's "Emancipation"!
Cheers to Will Smith's "Emancipation"!

2 Jul – Here's to Will Smith's "Emancipation", which recently made history with its record-breaking acquisition deal.

In what is dubbed as the largest film festival acquisition deal in film history, Apple Studios has won the bidding war for worldwide rights to the Will Smith-starrer, according to Deadline.

To be directed by Antoine Fuqua, the action thriller is based on the historical accounts of runaway slave Peter, who escaped his abusive owners and flee to the North to join the Union Army during the 19th century.

Fuqua and Smith's team-up for the project was announced last month, though the duo had been working on it in secret since Fuqua picked up the script two years ago.

Last week, Warner Bros, Apple, MGM, Lionsgate and Universal were reported to be among the seven bidders for the first major property at the Cannes Film Festival virtual market.

Bidding went above USD75 million, leaving only Warner Bros. and Apple as the final bidders.

Apple finally won the bid with a deal that reportedly comes in at USD105 million net. Factoring in backend gross buyouts, the final figure could end up exceeding USD120 million.

William N. Collage, who penned the script, will be paid mid-seven figures for it.

Aside from starring in it, Smith is also producing with his Westbrook Studios partners James Lassiter and Jon Mone, along with McFarland Entertainment's Joey McFarland and Escape Artists' Todd Black. Fuqua will also serve as executive produce under his Fuqua Films banner, alongside Cliff Banner.

Production on the movie is expected to begin next year. "Emancipation" will then be released in cinemas first before streaming worldwide on Apple TV+.

Cinema Online, 02 July 2020

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