'The Banker' Filmmakers Defend Movie After Apple Delays Release

The Banker -Nicholas Hoult, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie- Apple TV+ Publicity-H 2019
Apple TV+

"We stand by the film and its positive message of empowerment," reads a statement signed by writer-director George Nolfi, Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, among others.

In the wake of Apple's decision to delay the release of The Banker amid sexual abuse claims leveled against Bernard Garrett Jr. — the son of one of the subjects of the drama and a co-producer on the feature — the filmmakers behind the movie have released a statement defending it.

"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 groundbreaking achievements combating racial inequality in the 1950s and '60s," reads the statement, which was signed by director and writer George Nolfi, as well as stars and producers Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson. The cast and crew behind the pic, including Nia Long, Nicholas Hoult and below-the-line crewmembers, also signed the statement. 

It continues: "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."

Apple canceled the AFI Fest premiere of The Banker and then delayed the film's planned Dec. 6 theatrical release after Cynthia and Sheila Garrett alleged that they were sexually molested by their half-brother, Garrett Jr., over the course of a few years. The sisters also claim that the timeline of the film was tweaked in order to leave the girls and their mother out of the story, even though Garrett Sr. (played by Mackie) had already divorced their mother by the time of some of the events depicted in the movie.

The Banker follows businessmen Garrett Sr. and Joe Morris (played by Jackson), who recruited a white man to front their growing Los Angeles real estate empire in a pre-Civil Rights-era America. 

In a Nov. 19 statement announcing the cancellation of the pic's premiere, Apple said, "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 Banker was set to debut on the tech giant's recently launched streaming platform, Apple TV+, sometime in January. Apple has yet to announce new release plans for the film, but, as a result of the theatrical delay, the streaming debut has also been pushed.