Apple has a Will Smith problem of Oscar proportions

After the infamous limp by Will Smith, Apple has a problem. A $100 million problem. A problem that may well kill the best drama film of 2023.

Will Smith single-handedly saved the Oscars. After years of imploding viewing figures, all eyes were suddenly on the ceremony again last March. Or, at least, in a short but very juicy fragment.

Will Smith and the limp

Then of course we are talking about the moment when Smith killed his career. The all-rounder, the beloved rapper, actor and producer who recently published a book about his life. After Chris Rock made a spicy joke about his wife, the x-year-old actor stormed the stage to give the same comedian a bitchclap to sell a lot.

The rest is anything but history. Studio after studio scrapped planned projects with Will Smith, but the decision was not always that simple. a future blockbuster deleting it is one thing, but what do you do when your very expensive project with the actor has already been filmed?

Apple’s 100 Million Problem

That’s exactly the problem Apple has right now. The tech giant has been trying to build a reputation in Hollywood for several years through prestigious projects for the streaming service Apple TV+.

At the beginning of this year, the shooting was completed for such a type of project: Emancipation. An Apple historical thriller with a budget of 100 million dollars.

The film is based on the true story of an escaped enslaved named Gordon. Photographs of his bare back, severely flogged by an overseer’s lashes, were published worldwide in 1863, giving the abolitionist movement evidence of the brutality of American slavery.

Fans fall over striking detail of Will Smith apology video
Will Smith in his apology video (Image: Will Smith @ YouTube)

Oscars candidate

So we’re not talking about a light-hearted superhero movie or other popcorn material. Emancipation is a momentous project with which Apple is already preparing for an Oscar.

And who will receive that Oscar? Exactly, Will Smith. He is in fact the big star of the very expensive project, which incidentally is only the only film that is on his schedule. Apple even hoped for a second Best Actor-Oscar for Smith in a row with Emancipationuntil the same Smith threw a spanner in the works during the Oscars.

So the big question is: what do you do then? We are now almost half a year later, and Will Smith has already apologized extensively in a controversial video on YouTube. Apologies that Chris Rock only seems to take it half seriously.

Devil’s Dilemma

Can Smith get off the bench and Apple can rest assured starpower use to promote the film? Or is Smith off for good and can Apple Emancipation better leave it on the shelf? That’s not really an option either. The New York Times has devoted an intriguing article to this diabolical dilemma.

The Hollywood Reporter journalist Stephen Galloway calls it a lose-lose situation: “If they delay the film, will that damage Apple’s reputation? If they release it, will it damage their reputation? Hollywood loves a win-win situation. This one is lose-lose.”

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Bygone Opportunities

The initial controversy is bound to draw more attention to the film, but that’s short-term. That Oscars hope? Apple can give that up, according to Stephen Gilula, former president of Fox Searchlight:

“Regardless of the quality of the film, all the press, all the reviewers, all the feature film writers and all the price predictors will look at it and talk about the limp. There is a very high risk that the film will not be judged on its own merits.”

It shouldn’t play a role, the Oscars are, of course, about the movies themselves. But the ceremony and process behind it are anything but scientific. Elderly judges who vote for an animated film because their grandson liked it, without having seen the film in question. That kind of practice.

On to 2023

For now, Apple still has some time to make a decision. Emancipation is scheduled for 2023. The tech giant has not been more specific than that, but at some point Tim Cook and Co. yet to hit the button.

To be continued without a doubt!

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The New York Times

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Apple has a Will Smith problem of Oscar proportions

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