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Major studios have found themselves in a bidding war over a movie about a slave who escapes to the Union army. According to Variety, the flick entitled Emancipation stars Will Smith and it’s being sought out by studios like Warner Bros., MGM, Lionsgate, Apple and Universal.

Smith plays Peter, a slave who runs away and avoids recapture by escaping to the Union Army. During his journey, he outsmarts bounty hunters over 10 days through the Louisiana swamps. The army photos taken of Peter showing his back scars from being whipped were published in 1863 and became known as the “scourged back” photos. These images would go on to illustrate the inhumanness of slavery.

Emancipation will be directed by Antoine Fuqua of Training Day fame. Major studios have bided on the project at the Cannes virtual market this week and prices have reached upwards of $75 million.

Production is supposed to begin in early 2021 with Smith, James Lassiter and Jon Mone all producing. The movie will be written by William N. Collage.

Joey McFarland of McFarland Entertainment began researching and developing the characters and story in 2018 and he brought on Collage to write the script and participate in additional research.

As of now, there is no release date planned.

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