Will Smith received support from a host of his Hollywood friends, including Rihanna, Dave Chappelle and Tyler Perry, during a private screening of his new Apple film “Emancipation.”
The film marks Smith’s first movie release since the 2022 Oscars where he slapped Chris Rock onstage during the live telecast.
The 54-year-old actor smiled while holding his phone above his shoulders for a group selfie posted on Instagram Monday, which featured the handful of Hollywood stars enjoying Smith’s latest on-screen project.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the movie follows Smith’s character, Peter, as he escapes slavery and finds freedom during the American Civil War.
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“EPIC night!! Thanx for coming to see #Emancipation,” he captioned the photo shared with his 68 million followers. “Hope ya’ll enjoyed!!”
Kenya Barris wrote in the comments, “This night was MAGIC and your movie is truly something that will last forever!”
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He followed up on his stories, “#Emancipation is pure art, power and everything else a film should be. You got one @willsmith.”
“I’m still haunted by #Emancipation,” Tyler Perry wrote in his stories. “It’s truly powerful, moving and captivating. And the conversation afterwards with this group was legendary. Thank you @willsmith for the preview!”
Earlier this month, Smith praised Apple on Instagram when the trailer was released.
“This was the hardest movie I’ve ever made. Blood, Sweat & Tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world,” he wrote.
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The film premieres in theaters on Dec. 2 before moving over to the streaming platform on Dec. 9.
Earlier reports claimed the company went back-and-forth on a release date, and were in talks of holding the film until 2023 following the backlash Smith received after he slapped Rock. One insider told the New York Times that the “sensitivity of the situation is apparent,” and Apple even set up a test screening earlier this year.
Apple reportedly spent $120 million on the movie, which will be eligible for the upcoming awards season even if Smith isn’t allowed to be at the ceremony.
The Oscar-winning actor resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and was banned from attending any Academy-related events for 10 years after slapping Rock on stage in March. He’s since apologized to both the Academy and Rock.
Chappelle spent the summer headlining various comedy shows, including a U.K. tour with Rock, which returns stateside later this year.