“EPIC night!! Thanx for coming to see #Emancipation. Hope ya’ll enjoyed!!” Will Smith captioned the photos he posted to Instagram on Monday (Oct. 24), revealing the select few who got to see his new movie, Emancipation, ahead of the Dec. 2 release date. Will, 54, screened the film for some A-lister friends, including Rihanna and her boyfriend, ASAP Rocky, Tyler Perry, film writer and black-ish creator Kenya Barris, music producer Corey Smyth, celebrity stylist Fawn Boardley, comedian Dave Chappelle, and entertainment mogul Tyler Perry. The second slide showed Chapelle, 49, standing among the seats of the private theatre.
“This night was truly one for the books!” Kenya Barris, 48, wrote when sharing the same photos on his Instagram. “An amazing and brilliant group of friends got together and witnessed TRUE ART. The conversation after was the effect of what anything and everything we as creatives do in this industry hope for. Love you, @willsmith, and thank you for hosting.” “I’m still haunted by Emancipation,” wrote Tyler Perry. “It’s truly powerful, moving and captivating. And the conversation afterward with this group was legendary. Thank you Will Smith for the preview!”
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Emancipation marks Will Smith’s first film since the now-infamous slap during the 2022 Academy Awards. The film is based on a true story, following Peter (Smith), an “enslaved man who runs away from his plantation in search of his family, outwitting cold-blooded hunters and surviving Louisiana swamps along the way,” per The Hollywood Reporter. The real Peter became known as “Whipped Peter” after photographs of keloid scarring on his back are distributed throughout the country, showing the brutality of slavery, per Variety.
Will Smith is currently serving a 10-year ban from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over slapping Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards in March 2022. “Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards,” the AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement announcing the ban. “We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
Smith issued a public apology in July. “I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable,” Will said in a video posted to YouTube. “I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview that Chris’s mother did. And that was one of the things about that moment I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking but how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize to Chris’s family. Specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. And this probably irreparable.”