Will Smith’s New Movie Shuts Down Production Due To Rising COVID-19 Cases

Will Smith

After the first trailer for biopic King Richard dropped last week, once fans had stopped wiping away the tears they were proclaiming Will Smith as the front-runner for the Best Actor Academy Award already, a sentiment a lot of people would agree with looking at the footage, which promises a potentially career-best performance.

Smith has always tended to follow up his prestige drama appearances with an immediate return to blockbuster territory, but he mixed things up significantly by moving straight on to an even more powerful story once he’d wrapped King Richard. The A-lister is teaming with Antoine Fuqua for dramatic thriller Emancipation, which stars the former Fresh prince as a runaway slave named Peter, who outwitted bounty hunters and soldiers determined to bring him in, before he joined the Union Army.

The start of shooting was already pushed back after Smith and Fuqua decided to move production out of Georgia following the controversial changes to the state’s voting laws, with the call to shift the entire operation to New Orleans reportedly costing upwards of $15 million.

Filming finally kicked off a little over two weeks ago, but Emancipation has now been forced to bring itself to a screeching halt after a surge in COVID-19 cases among the crew. While the initial hiatus is only set to last until this coming Saturday, looking at the spread of the Delta variant, there’s every chance it could end up being longer depending on how the situation plays out over the next few days.

AppleTV+ shelled out in excess of $130 million to secure the exclusive distribution rights to Emancipation, so the company will be sweating nervously over any further potential delays.