After Hobbling Award Chances With AFI Fest Pullout, Apple Finally Sets Inaugural Film ‘The Banker’ For 2-Week Theatrical Run Before Streaming Release

Mike Fleming Jr

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After abruptly pulling the George Nolfi-directed The Banker on the eve of its closing-night berth at AFI Fest last year and indefinitely postponing the December 6 release that was to mark Apple’s debut as a theatrical distributor, Apple has finally come forward and dated the period film for a March 6 theatrical release before it is placed on the Apple TV+ streaming service March 20.

The situation cropped up after allegations were made of sexual assault by Cynthia Garrett, who said her brother Bernard Garrett Jr molested both she and her sister when they were children.

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The film tells the story of two black entrepreneurs, Bernard Garrett Sr (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who after becoming millionaires through Los Angeles real estate dealings banded together to buy banks in Texas, a perilous pursuit in the Jim Crow South. Using a white frontman (Nicholas Hoult), they bought the banks partly to be able to make loans to blacks in Texas, who were shut out of the wealth-building system because of their race.

The movie tells an important story. Cynthia Garrett’s allegations had little to do with the story onscreen but were incredibly hurtful to she and her sister to see a movie about her father that had her brother involved as a co-producer (he removed his name when the controversy was bared). Garrett also complained that her mother was excluded from the film, in a final scene after Garrett and Morris finish serving time for bank fraud.

I’d heard that just as Apple was not forthcoming to the point of being evasive to Deadline in the past week, the corporation took the same track with the filmmakers, only gesturing that it had finished its own investigation and, as the filmmakers had laid out in detail to Deadline last year, there was no evidence of wrongdoing or that they knew anything about Garrett Jr’s alleged misdeeds, which he has steadfastly denied.

There was talk of releasing the film a week prior, on February 28, to make Black History Month, but that conflicted with another Mackie project, so it was instead moved forward a week.

Apple was in a no-win situation on the movie, and clearly the corporation feared tarnishing its global brand. But this goes down as an inauspicious debut for the launch of a feature film division that acquired The Banker in competitive bidding. It seems Apple reacted more from fear than anything else, and did not stand by its filmmakers. The facts behind the unfortunate controversy were fairly clear since Apple made the surprising decision to pull the movie, and it is also unclear how shunting it to a brief theatrical window in March will help anything. The alleged victim and her sister will continue to be upset, though an attempt to reach her before this announcement was so far unavailing. More to come on this one.

The filmmakers issued this statement December 2, just as the controversy had heated up:

“We set out to tell a story we were very passionate about, recounting the remarkable lives of Bernard Garrett Sr and Joe Morris, and their ground-breaking achievements combating racial inequality in the 1950s and 60s. Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett’s children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered. The film itself is not based on the recollections of any of Bernard Garrett Sr’s children, but rather, on recorded interviews with Bernard Garrett Sr himself, conducted in 1995, supported by congressional transcripts, court rulings, and other media articles from the era. We stand by the film, and its positive message of empowerment.”

Signed By:

George Nolfi – Director, Producer, Writer
Anthony Mackie – Actor, Producer
Samuel L. Jackson – Actor, Executive Producer
Nicholas Hoult – Actor
Nia Long – Actor
Scott Daniel Johnson – Actor
Jessie T. Usher – Actor
Colm Meaney – Actor
Paul Ben-Victor – Actor
James DuMont – Actor
GregAlan Williams – Actor
Bill Kelly – Actor
Michael Harney – Actor
David Maldonado – Actor
Gralen Bryant Banks – Actor
Rhoda Griffis – Actor
Joel Viertel – Producer, Editor
Brad Feinstein – Producer
David Lewis Smith – Producer, Writer
Will Greenfield – Executive Producer, Unit Production Manager
Carlo Hart – Co-Producer
Stan Younger – Writer
Niceole Levy – Writer
Brad Caleb Kane – Writer
Charlotte Bruus Christensen – Director of Photography
John Collins – Production Designer
Aieisha Li – Costume Designer
H. Scott Salinas – Composer
Kim Coleman – Casting Director
Tonya Cryer – Hair Department Head
LaToya Henderson – Make-Up Department Head
Stephen Moore – 1st Assistant Director
Andi Crumbley – Art Director
Lynne Mitchell – Set Decorator
Mike Scherschel – Prop Master
Kayla Gueho – Location Manager
David Martin – Key Assistant Location Manager
Harrison Huffman – Production Supervisor
Huxley Rodriguez – Production Coordinator
Serena Simpson – Sound Mixer
Chris Birdsong – Key Grip
Jon Lewis – Gaffer
Karlyn Exantus – Script Supervisor
Meagan Lewis – Local Casting Director Atlanta
Mary Jasionowski – Production Accountant
Chuck Jean – Post-Production Supervisor
Gordon Williams – Music Supervisor
Michael Hatzer – Supervising Digital Colorist
David Christopher Smith – Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixer
Marti Humphrey – Supervising Sound Editor, Re-Recording Mixer
Christian Wood – Visual Effects Supervisor
Chris LeDoux – Associate Visual Effects Supervisor
Cindy Rago – Visual Effects Producer