Will Smith in King Richard

We haven’t seen Will Smith in a cinematic setting since Bad Boys for Life in early 2020, but audiences will finally reunite with him this fall for King Richard, which dropped its first trailer last week. Smith himself, however, is in the midst of shooting his next movie, Emancipation. Principal photography on the Civil War-set action thriller kicked off in Louisiana in mid-July, with the plan originally being for the project to shoot in Georgia. Now word’s come in that Emancipation is among the many movies and TV shows in production that have had to shut down for pandemic-related reasons.

Emancipation has pressed the pause button on filming following “a small number” of crew members testing positive for COVID-19, as reported by Deadline. According to the outlet, the hiatus begins today and is expected to last five days. So by this coming weekend, Emancipation should be back to rolling cameras, but are taking the necessary precautionary measures right now at a time when the United States is dealing with the spreading delta variant of the coronavirus.

As for why Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua decided to move Emancipation’s production from Georgia to Louisiana back in April, that for political reasons. Although Georgia, specifically the Atlanta area, has become a popular destination for major productions in recent years, Brian Kemp, the state’s governor, signed legislation earlier this year that saw restrictive voting standards being implemented. This caught the ire of various individuals in the Hollywood sphere, including Smith and Fuqua, who announced in a public statement that they would film Emancipation in Louisiana instead, saying that they could not “in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.”

COVID-19 issues aside, Emancipation shooting in Louisiana arguably worked out for the better since that’s where the story is set. Will Smith stars in Emancipation as a slave names Peter, who flees the Louisiana plantation he’d been serving on after being nearly beaten to death. Peter ventures through the dangerous Louisiana swamps and avoids hunters as he makes his way to the north and eventually joins the Union army. The movie is based on a true life story, with the photograph of Peter’s scarred back, which was taken in 1863, being called “The Scourged Back.” Along with his performing duties, Smith is executive producing Emancipation.

Will Smith’s turn as Peter follows his performance in King Richard as Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis all-stars Venus and Serena Williams. That movie hits theaters and HBO Max on November 19. Along with that and his reprisal of Mike Lowery in Bad Boys for Life, Smith’s other recent credits include the live-action Aladdin remake, Gemini Man and Spies in Disguise. As of this writing, it hasn’t been revealed who else is part of Emancipation’s cast.

As more details about Emancipation trickle in, including where it ends up on the calendar, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, keep track of what movies have slotted for the near future with our 2021 release schedule and 2022 release schedule.

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