Apple TV+ has canceled the world premiere of The Banker that was scheduled at AFI Fest for Thursday night as Cynthia and Sheila Garrett, the daughters of the movie’s real-life subject, are publicly speaking out against it. Update, Nov. 22: The film’s theatrical release, scheduled for Dec. 6, has also been canceled, with no other release date set. There is no word for now on whether Apple plans to proceed with the film’s streaming debut, scheduled for January.
The film stars Anthony Mackie as Bernard Garrett, a black businessman who hires a white man as the face of his growing real estate and banking empire in the 1950s and ’60s. Garrett’s daughters have accused their half-brother Bernard Garrett Jr., one of The Banker’s producers, of sexually molesting them “over the course of a few years” in the 1970s, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Bernard Garrett Jr. has not publicly responded to the accusations, but an attorney for production company Romulus Entertainment told THR that he has stepped down as a producer “to avoid taking attention away from his father’s story.” His sisters also say the movie is inaccurate.
Apple was reportedly notified about the issues with The Banker last week. “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,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”
Cynthia Garrett commented on an IndieWire post earlier this month that “every producer and star who played a part in this should be ashamed. Apple TV should be ashamed.” (IndieWire says it has has verified that Garrett wrote the comment.) In addition to the sexual abuse accusations against her half-brother, she criticizes the movie for overlooking her siblings and her mother, who is white, instead shifting the timeline of events to focus on Garrett’s first wife, Eunice, played by Nia Long. “It’s sick that these men never seemed to care to know the real story here. I’ve worked in Hollywood thirty years. I’ve spoken about this in my book. And in conferences for years all over the world. Yet they partnered with our estranged half brother and erased us and our mother who co owned all the real estate and the banks.”
Representatives for the movie’s producers told THR that The Banker is based on hours of interviews with Bernard Garrett Sr., among other sources, and Cynthia Garrett says they have contacted her to discuss her concerns. It’s unclear if or how these allegations will affect the movie’s planned theatrical premiere on Dec. 6 , but in the meantime, AFI Fest will close with a screening of Marriage Story on Thursday instead.