The Banker premiere canceled, release delayed due to sexual abuse claims against subject's son
After Apple canceled The Banker premiere earlier this week due to “concerns” recently brought to their attention, many were left wondering what had delayed the Samuel L. Jackson led film.
Now, Cynthia Garrett, the half-sister of Bernard Garrett Jr., son of the film’s subject, has come forward with allegations of sexual abuse. Garrett Jr. was initially billed as a co-producer and was listed as a key part of the press tour for the film. In the wake of Garrett’s allegations, the film’s release has been delayed and its buzzy Thursday night premiere at AFI Fest was abruptly canceled.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Garrett alleges that she and her sister Sheila, were sexually molested by their half-brother when he was a young man living in their home. She also alleges the timeline of The Banker was adjusted to leave them and their mother out of the story, instead featuring Bernard Garrett Jr.’s mother, who was already divorced from Garrett Sr., portrayed by Anthony Mackie onscreen, at the time of the events of the film. EW has been unable to independently assess the truth of the allegations and Garrett Jr. could not be reached for comment.
On Nov. 16, Cynthia Garrett tweeted out a trailer for the film with the caption, “Lies to hide the producer who sexually molesterdmy sister and I for years, then stole my mom’s life story with our dad. Wow!!! #TimesUp. This family will not remain silent.”
Garrett has since tweeted out the THR story outlining her allegations, as well as posted another statement on her social media page. “So sorry we can’t enjoy my mom and dad’s real story,” she wrote. “All this person had to do was stop compounding his abuse. It HURTS. But we simply had enough. #TimeHadToBeUp.”
The Banker was previously scheduled for a limited theater run beginning Dec. 6, before debuting on the Apple TV+ streaming platform later in January. Its future is now uncertain. It stars Mackie as Bernard Garrett and Jackson as Joe Morris. The film, written and directed by George Nolfi, followed these businessmen as they take on the racially oppressive establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Nia Long and Nicholas Hoult also star.
“This entire project is poisoned. It’s the fruit of crime, lies and deception,” Garrett wrote in an open letter she shared with THR. However, according to THR, producers claim the film is based purely on interviews with the late Garrett Sr., as well as his life rights and other documents.
Cynthia Garrett did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. EW was unable to locate contact information for Bernard Garrett, Jr. We also reached out to Romulus Entertainment, the production company which had granted Garrett producer credit, which has since been removed, but they did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Apple reportedly purchased the film in July after it was already completed. An attorney for producer Romulus Entertainment told The Hollywood Reporter that Garrett Jr. recently stepped down from his previously listed position as producer to avoid taking attention away from his father’s story.
Garett claims the abuse began in the early 1970s when Garrett, Jr. was invited to live with them in their Glendora, CA home. Cynthia Garrett has pledged to release her own public statement about the allegations. Reportedly, the abuse remained a secret for over a decade, even between Cynthia and Sheila. Cynthia says that the accusations came out in the early 1980s during a visit from Garrett Jr. When Sheila refused to leave her bedroom to greet her half-brother, Cynthia asked why, which led the accusations to come out. The two sisters then confided their individual claims of abuse to their mother Linda, who THR reports confirmed her daughter’s account of that day.
Apple has not responded directly to Garrett’s claims and did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, but they released the following statement when news broke of their plans to pull the film from AFI Fest: “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. In light of this, we are no longer premiering The Banker at AFI Fest.”
Read the original THR story here.