Apple abruptly canceled the world premiere of The Banker Wednesday, just one day before the film was scheduled to close the AFI Festival in Hollywood.
Apple said it pulled the film after “concerns” were raised regarding the real-life subjects, but did not elaborate.
On Wednesday night, The Hollywood Reporter published a bombshell article saying co-producer Bernard Garrett Jr., who is also the son of the film’s subject (played by Anthony Mackie), has been accused of sexually assaulting his two half-sisters in the early 1970s.
According to THR, sisters Cynthia Garrett and Sheila Garrett told Apple about a week ago that Garrett Jr. allegedly molested them for years, when they were little girls and he lived in their home.
They said the alleged abuse happened without their father’s knowledge, after Bernard Garrett Sr. (portrayed by Mackie) returned home from prison and his son, who was about 15 years older than the girls, moved in with the family.
Cynthia Garrett, formerly an interviewer on MTV and VH1, told THR the film changed the timeline of real-life events in order to leave them out of the story. “This entire project is poisoned. It’s the fruit of crime, lies and deception,” Cynthia said.
On Nov. 16, Cynthia posted a tweet saying the film “lies to hide the producer who sexually molested my sister and I for years, then stole my mom’s life story with our dad… This family will not remain silent.”
The Banker stars Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson as African American entrepreneurs who try to sidestep Jim Crow laws in 1950s Texas, and provide home loans to the African American community. The film is directed by George Nolfi, and also stars Nia Long and Nicholas Hoult.
Apple announced it was withdrawing the film from AFI Fest after new information was brought to the company’s attention.
“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,” an Apple rep said in a statement.
The tech giant acquired distribution rights to the film in July to go on its new streaming service Apple TV+. The film is scheduled to be released in theaters on Dec. 6 and begin streaming in January.
AFI Fest said it stands behind Apple’s decision to pull the film, and has lined up another movie to close the festival.
“We support Apple’s decision to postpone the premiere of The Banker,” the festival said in a statement. “Fortunately our partners at Netflix have generously allowed us to screen their critically acclaimed Marriage Story to close out AFI Fest at the TCL Chinese Theatre.”
— AFI FEST (@AFIFEST) November 20, 2019
The American Film Institute (AFI) is located in Los Angeles, and educates filmmakers and honors the heritage of the motion picture industry in the U.S.