The Banker was supposed to be Apple TV+’s play into the prestige film space. Starring Marvel vets Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, it tells the true story of Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris, two African-American businessmen in the 1950s who hired a white man to front their real estate business. It was even going to open at the prestigious AFI Fest in 2019. But then, allegations of misconduct against the film’s co-producer (and Garrett’s son) Bernard Garrett Jr. emerged, from his half-sister Cynthia Garrett. And while Apple figured out what to do, they pulled the film from AFI and postponed the release date indefinitely. Now, Apple has announced (h/t The Hollywood Reporter) the official release date for The Banker: March 6 in theaters, March 20 streaming on Apple TV+.
The allegations against Garrett Jr. involve actions of sexual assault that took place when he and Cynthia Garrett were children. Apple has removed Garrett Jr. from the film’s credits, and he will receive no profits from the film moving forward (although Garrett Jr. was actively involved in pitching and was apparently paid upfront). And while Cynthia Garrett is still against the release of the film, Apple released an emphatic statement: “We created Apple TV+ as a home for stories that matter and believe The Banker, inspired by the brave actions of Bernard Garrett Sr. and Joe Morris, two African American businessmen who brought about positive social change, is one of those stories.” The filmmakers of The Banker, including Mackie, Jackson, and director George Nolfi, added:
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.
The Banker comes to theaters March 6, and to Apple TV+ March 20. Watch the first trailer here.