Apple has made the last minute decision to cancel the world premiere of “The Banker,” which was set to close out AFI Fest on Thursday, as the company reportedly investigates charges made by a family member of the late Bernard Garrett Sr., the man played by Anthony Mackie in the film.
An AFI Fest spokesperson confirmed that the film has been pulled from the Los Angeles festival’s slate and replaced with Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” That movie, though widely lauded, has already been released in theaters.
“We support Apple’s decision to postpone the premiere of ‘The Banker.” Fortunately our partners at Netflix have generously allowed us to screen the critically acclaimed ‘Marriage Story’ to close out AFI Fest tomorrow at the TCL Chinese Theater,” the spokesperson said.
Apple offered this statement to Deadline:
“We purchased ‘The Banker’ earlier this year as we were moved by the film’s entertaining and educational story about social change and financial literacy. 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. In light of this, we are no longer premiering ‘The Banker’ at AFI Fest.”
The exact nature of the concerns are unclear, but Deadline reported that Apple is investigating “recently uncovered and potentially damaging charges” that have surfaced from a family member of Garrett, citing unnamed sources.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed that it is cancelling the movie’s press junket planned for this week.
The film, directed by George Nolfi, stars Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long, and Nicholas Hoult and is based on the true story of two African American entrepreneurs who seek to thwart the racial limitations of the 1950s.
Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson) recruit working-class white man Matt Steiner (Hoult) to pose as the head of their business empire while the two moguls act as a janitor and chauffeur. After making it big in California real estate, the men secretly purchase two banks in Texas in an aim to provide loans to the black community there. But with success comes the unforeseen risk of exposure and the threat of losing everything.
Apple planned to give “The Banker” a limited release Dec. 6 before dropping the film on Apple TV+ in January. It’s unclear whether those plans have changed.
The film has been key in Apple’s early strategy for its streaming platform, which launched earlier this month with series including “The Morning Show” and one film, the documentary “The Elephant Queen.” The company had planned to make “The Banker” one of its first narrative releases and had positioned it as an awards title complete with FYC campaigns.
Nolfi was among the panelists at IndieWire’s recent Consider This FYC Brunch, where he discussed the difficulties in getting the film made — the original script was penned nearly 20 years ago.
IndieWire has reached out to Apple for comment.