Netflix and Sony pull back from Will Smith-led projects amid Oscars fallout

will smith emancipation movie
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Both Netflix and Sony have stepped back from new projects with Will Smith, amid the fallout from the 2022 Oscars ceremony. 

Smith, who was forced to apologize after he struck host Chris Rock over a joke Rock had made about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, has endured a tricky few days. He subsequently resigned from the Academy, 

Netflix, where Smith had been developing a new action-thriller named Fast and Loose, have now paused the project. The film, which was already without a director after the departure of Deadpool 2 man David Leitch, has now been put in the deep freezer. 

As well as that, Smith was due to make a fourth instalment of hit action franchise Bad Boys, following the hit reboot Bad Boys For Life in 2021. That too has been paused as Sony reassesses its options. 

How far along were the projects Smith was due to star in?

Fast and Loose was a way down the track. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film was due to tell the story of a criminal who loses his memory after an attack and mysteriously wakes up in Tijuana. 

After that, the character is forced to discover the clues of his past, leading him to learn that he has been living a double life: in one, he's a rich, ruthless crime lord, in the other, he's an undercover CIA agent.

The film has a completed script and was moving forward until Leitch left the project. Now, it'll stay on pause. 

Bad Boys 4 is a little further behind, with Smith only receiving 40 pages of the script thus far. However, with it being an established action franchise and a hit reboot still fresh in studio executives' mind, you'd have bet on things moving fairly quickly. Though not anymore...

What will we see Will Smith in next?

As things stand, Smith's next project is Emancipation, where he has teamed with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for Apple TV Plus. The movie is now in post-production.

Set amid the US Civil War, Smith will play Peter, a slave, who, after being nearly whipped to death, escapes from a Louisiana plantation and goes on the run to try and make his way North to join the Union Army.

There's no release date for Emancipation as yet, besides an expected date of 2022, and there was no look at Emancipation in Apple's preview of its 2022 slate at the start of March, so the date could move. 

It's fair to say though that things are a little in flux for Smith at the moment. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…