Apple cancels theatrical premiere of its Oscar hopeful, The Banker

Most of the hype around this month’s Apple TV+ launch centered on the TV portion—the Jennifer Anniston-led the -yfuture dystopian series the alternative history of the space race in Like its streaming competitors in the tech sector, however, Apple also plans to release and produce original movies for the new service. But now, one of the service’s first high-profile film projects is abruptly being held ahead of its previously scheduled December 6 theatrical release.

a period piece starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, will no longer hit theaters next month ahead of a planned January streaming release. As reported in The Hollywood Reporter, that’s because sisters Cynthia and Sheila Garrett allege they were sexually assaulted in the 1970s for nearly a decade by one of the film’s co-producers—Bernard Garrett Jr., their half-brother and son of one of the men portrayed in the film.

“Last week some concerns surrounding the film were brought to our attention. We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps,” Apple said in a statement.

Set in 1950s Los Angeles, tells the story of two aspiring land developers (one being Garrett Sr., played by Mackie) who decide they want to acquire a bank to make the loan process more equitable for black people in the South. To get past the issues they would face in acquiring a bank, the duo enlists their friend Matt (Nicholas Hoult) as a white man stand-in for business purposes.

Apple didn’t develop ;it acquired the film back in July. According to THR, neither Apple nor the filmmakers were aware of these allegations until roughly a week ago. The company reportedly learned of the situation from Cynthia Garrett’s attorney, and Garrett’s legal team pushed for the movie being held. The production company behind the film, Romulus Entertainment, told THR that Garret Jr. has stepped down from the film to avoid taking away from the story going forward. His credit has been removed from the film’s publicity materials.

Cynthia Garrett has previously spoken publicly about sexual abuse through her organization Cynthia Garrett Ministries, and she wrote about abuse at the hands of a relative in a 2016 book. In an open letter obtained by THR, she says, “This entire project is poisoned. It’s the fruit of crime, lies, and deception.”

According to THR, Romulus Entertainment has said is based on interviews with the late Garrett Sr. as well as court documents from the time period. The Garrett sisters allege the film’s timeline was shifted to leave them and their mother out of the story in favor of Garrett Sr.’s first wife, even though some of the events in the film happened following Garrett Sr.’s initial divorce.

had already been screening for critics ahead of its release, with the film slowly generating noticeable buzz. Jackson was even being discussed as a long-shot contender to sneak into one of the acting categories at the Oscars (you can hear The Ringer’s The Big Picture film podcast discussing mostly positive impressions around the 38:30-minute mark of this episode). An attorney for Romulus Entertainment told THR that Cynthia Garrett has been invited to screen the film and discuss her concerns, and going forward the film will use the description “based on true events.” It’s unclear at this time if other changes will be implemented or if Apple will delay the January streaming premiere.

For film fans, the whole situation may sound vaguely familiar. Back in 2016, it was Amazon acquiring a film festival darling with Oscar aspirations, Allegations of past sexual abuse soon resurfaced around the film’s star, Casey Affleck, but Amazon ultimately didn’t alter its theatrical or streaming release plans (and Affleck won the Oscar for best actor). Apple’s situation may ultimately prove different, however, considering the company has explicitly framed Apple TV+ as a family-friendly source of entertainment, and Garrett Jr.’s involvement with is not quite analogous to Affleck’s with 

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