THE BANKER, one of the first movies set to launch on Apple TV+, was slated to have its world premiere tomorrow as the closing film of the AFI Festival, but the streaming service has unexpectedly pulled THE BANKER after potentially damaging concerns surrounding the film were brought to their attention. The upcoming drama directed by George Nolfi (THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU) is based on the true story of Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), two revolutionary businessmen who devised a bold plan to take on the racially oppressive establishment of the 1960s and help other African Americans to pursue the American dream.
“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,” reads Apple’s official statement. “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.” An AFI Fest spokesperson responded, “We support Apple’s decision to postpone the premiere of The Banker. Fortunately our partners at Netflix have generously allowed us to screen their critically acclaimed Marriage Story to close out AFI Fest at the TCL Chines Theatre.” The exact nature of these concerns isn’t known, but there are unconfirmed reports that a family member has come forward with some very troubling allegations about Garrett Sr.’s son, Bernard Garrett Jr., and that at least one Hollywood trade paper is planning a story. Garrett Jr. has been participating in Q&As and other promotional activities regarding THE BANKER and also served as a consultant during its production, so Apple has decided to pump the breaks until they get gather more information on the matter. Keep in mind that these reports are still unconfirmed, but the allegations must have been serious enough to cause Apple to pull the plug a mere day before the premiere.
The official synopsis for THE BANKER:
Based on a true story, “The Banker” centers on revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racially oppressive establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garrett’s wife Eunice (Nia Long), they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire – while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built.
THE BANKER will was slated select-theaters on December 6, 2019 before landing on the Apple TV+ streaming service on January 31, 2020, but until this matter is resolved, I’d imagine that these dates are up in the air.