Will Smith makes screen return in trailer for slavery drama Emancipation

The film will debut in cinemas on December 2 and Apple TV  a week later.
The film will debut in cinemas on December 2 and Apple TV a week later.

The trailer has been released for Apple TV+ slavery drama Emancipation, Will Smith’s first big project since his now infamous Oscars slap.

The film is based on the true story of “whipped Peter” from 1863 and premieres in cinemas on December 2 and the streaming service on December 9.

Its release will mark the Hollywood star’s first project launch since he stormed the stage at the Academy Awards this year and slapped comedian Chris Rock following a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Smith, 54, was banned from all Academy events or programmes for 10 years.

In the trailer, he is seen in character being wheeled away in a cage before his overseer Fassel, played by Ben Foster, tells him: “You walk the earth because I let you. I’m your god now.”

He escapes and sets out on a journey through the swamps to Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, to join the ranks of the Union army.

Dramatic shots show him fighting off an alligator while avoiding gunshots. Fassel later adds: “He’s persistent. You know what I mean? Hidin’, survivin’.”

Smith is also shown recreating the famous image, known as The Scourged Back, which showed Peter’s bare back mutilated by whipping from his time in slavery.

The photo became one of the most widely circulated of the abolitionist movement in the US and helped garner support behind it.

The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua, whose previous movies include Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer.

In April last year, Smith and Fuqua, who both act as producers, pulled production of Emancipation from Georgia over the state’s new law restricting voting access.

The film became the largest and most high-profile Hollywood production to depart the state since Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that introduced stiffer voter identification requirements for absentee balloting.