Apple’s anticipated original film The Banker has been scrapped as AFI Fest’s closing night film. The “virtually unprecedented development” was initially reported by Deadline.
In a statement Wednesday announcing the cancellation of the premiere, Apple told multiple outlets:
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.
Later on Wednesday evening, THR published a story that has left fans and filmmakers reeling: Cynthia and Sheila Garrett allege they were assaulted by their half-brother Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of the subject of The Banker. Anthony Mackie plays the late Bernard Garrett Sr. in the film.
Cynthia Garrett says she and her sister, Sheila Garrett, kept their abuse secret for a decade, even from each other, until her parents divorced and one day in the early 1980s her half-brother [Garrett Jr.] visited her mother’s home when all three were still living there. When her younger sister refused to leave her bedroom to greet him, Cynthia Garrett inquired as to why, and her accusations spilled forth. Realizing that day that both of them had been abused, they confided in their mother, Linda, who backs up her daughter’s account of that day. A few years later, Sheila Garrett says she told her father, too, of the abuse. “He kind of, basically, swept it under the rug. And when I got married, I told my father I did not want Bernard Jr. there, so my father didn’t come to my wedding,” Sheila Garrett recalls.
Garrett Jr. was initially billed as a co-producer of The Banker and has made several appearances during the movie’s press tour. THR notes that since the allegations came out, an attorney for producer Romulus Entertainment confirmed that “Garrett Jr. stepped down as a producer recently to avoid taking attention away from his father’s story.” Apple has yet to comment publicly on the specifics of Cynthia Garrett’s claims beyond their statement above, and Garrett Jr. and director George Nolfi did not respond to THR’s requests for comment.
In 2016, Cynthia Garrett self-published her book Prodigal Daughter: A Journey Home to Identity, naming a relative in regards to her abuse claims. She is currently writing another book slated for release next year talking about her survival. She and her sister made the claims in connection with separate allegations that the film’s timeline was tweaked to exclude both women and their mother, instead featuring Garrett Sr.’s first wife and Garrett Jr.’s mother—despite their divorce occurring before some of the events depicted in the film. “This entire project is poisoned. It’s the fruit of crime, lies and deception,” she writes in an open letter that THR reports she plans to publish online. Apple was made aware of the Garrett women’s claims through an attorney who asked the company to cancel the film’s release.
The film, which was set to be released in theaters on Dec. 6 and is Apple’s first original feature launching on their streaming service Apple TV+, is now hanging in limbo. Whether it will be released as initially promised in a few weeks time or ends up on the shelf, what we do know is that the film will now be described as being “based on true events,” as a Romulus attorney tells THR.
Netflix’s Marriage Story will instead close out AFI Fest.