Earlier this week, all appeared to be well with Apple’s upcoming historical/financial drama The Banker. The film—directed by George Nolfi, and based on the life of Bernard Garrett Sr., a Black man who hired a white man to serve as the public face of his financial business in order to operate more smoothly in the racist society of 1960s America—was all set to make its world premiere at the AFI Film Festival tonight, with stars Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson expected to be there in support. But then news broke yesterday that Apple was abruptly pulling the movie from the festival; at roughly the same time, Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of the movie’s subject, was dropped from public appearances associated with the movie, with his co-producing credit disappearing from promotional materials for the film.
Now, THR reports that these decisions came about after Apple—which purchased the already completed movie back in July—learned about allegations of sexual abuse made against the younger Garrett by his two half-sisters. Specifically, the two women allege that, after their father brought his son from his first marriage into their home, Garrett Jr. regularly sexually abused them both over a course of years. It took either girl years to reveal the abuse, even to each other; the older sister, Cynthia Garrett, says she only realized her little sister was also being abused after she expressed fear at the prospect of being left alone with their older half-brother.
Apple has issued a fairly vague statement about its decision to pull the movie from festival consideration, noting that, “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. We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps.” The tech giant was clearly positioning the film as one of its first big pushes into the world of prestige film, to go alongside its recent launch of Apple TV+ (upon which The Banker is supposed to debut, after a scheduled theatrical run next month). It’s not clear yet what the allegations against Garrett Jr.—or the sisters’ other assertions that the film erases both them, and their mother, from the narrative of their father’s life—will do, either for its award chances, or even for its efforts to get any kind of release into the Apple TV+ ecosystem at all.