With a slap in the face, Will Smith’s future is seriously in doubt. All the dominoes fall and many are not ready to forgive.
The dominoes fall for Will Smith.
A week ago, he was one of the silver screen’s few true superstars and now everyone is shunning his toxic brand thanks to his violent onstage antics at the Oscars.
For Hollywood studios, that means either pulling out or suspending upcoming projects involving the actor. No one wants a publicity tour dominated by reruns of the infamous footage or 342 questions from reporters about his rehabilitation.
Smith’s moratorium set to be temporary, with unnamed studio executive recounting The Hollywood Reporter that “he’s not kryptonite yet”.
Revealing a dark and violent side in such a public way jeopardized the decades Smith spent carefully maintaining a reputation as a hard worker, box office draw, and approachable, affable celebrity that made him lit for fans on the red carpet and in interviews.
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Until Smith can fully rehabilitate his image, which could include a reconciliation with Chris Rock, the comedian he slapped on stage for a joke directed at his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith’s brand is tarnished.
At the moment though, there is a risk in releasing a Smith project any time soon. Among those at risk:
Fast and Loose (Netflix)
Netflix was already nervous about the thriller Fast and loose. A week before the Oscars, Fast and loose lost its director in the person of David Leitch, the stuntman turned filmmaker who directed Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2 and the next High-speed train.
Leitch was attached to two films, Fast and loose at Netflix and Scapegoat at Universal. Leitch decided to go with Ryan Gosling with Ryan Gosling Scapegoat as his next project which left Fast and loose without a director.
According to The Hollywood Reporteronce Netflix lost Leitch, the streamer scrambled to find a replacement, but not before the Smith debacle devoured the industry and global headlines.
With the double blow of the absence of a director and a star who made a 180 from active to passive, Fast and loose was “quietly moved” to the back burner, reported THR.
That doesn’t mean the movie will never get made, or even be made with a different person, but with all the drama surrounding it off-screen, Netflix will want to give it some time before turning the cameras on.
The film was to present Smith as an amnesiac who slowly discovers his double life as a wealthy crime boss and a poor CIA agent.
Emancipation (Apple TV+)
Smith has already finished filming Emancipationmaking it the most pressing upcoming release on his list.
The film is based on the true story of an escaped slave during the American Civil War, whose horrific scars were captured in a series of photographs. Director Antoine Fuqua said the script “touched my heart and soul in so many ways”.
Smith stars alongside Ben Foster, Mustafa Shakir and Australian actor Charmaine Bingwa, from a screenplay by William N. Collage.
Apple has purchased the distribution rights to Emancipation for $130 million in a bidding war against Warner Bros. Studios, MGM, Lionsgate and Universal. At the time, it was a coup for the tech company to secure the rights to a star Smith vehicle that also had potential as a strong awards season contender.
Apple became the first streaming service to win the Best Picture Oscar at this year’s ceremony with the heartwarming CODAwhich the company bought for $25 million after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Emancipation was originally slated for release later this year, presumably at one of the prestigious film festivals that traditionally serve as the launch pad for an Oscar campaign, such as Venice, Telluride, Toronto or New York.
Early speculation was that Smith was set to be competitive on the awards circuit for the second year in a row – had he prevailed, he would have become that rare actor with back-to-back Oscar wins, a club that only includes Tom Hanks and Spencer Tracy as members.
If Apple goes ahead with its quirky release plan for the upcoming awards season, it could find itself facing some headwinds. Oscar voter, actress Rutanya Alda, told THR she voted for Smith this year for her role in King Richardbut would “never, ever vote for anything Will Smith is into again” after assaulting Rock.
Apple declined to comment.
Bad Boys 4 (Sony)
One of Smith’s first big-screen hits was Michael Bay’s Hug in 1995 Bad Boysin which he starred alongside Martin Lawrence as two Miami cops investigating a cocaine heist.
The film was a financial success and a bigger budget sequel followed in 2003. It would be another 17 years before Smith, Bay and Lawrence reunited for the next installment. bad boys for life. As one of the few blockbusters to be released in 2020 before the pandemic shutdown of cinemas, it became one of the highest-grossing films of the year.
Another sequel was greenlit almost immediately by Sony.
Now, following the Smith scandal, bad boys 4 could become another victim. THR quoted an inside source who claimed bad boys 4 moved from active development to “pause”. The same article stated that Smith already had 40 pages of the script before the Oscars shenanigans.
Through Westbrook, the production company founded by Smith and Pinkett Smith in 2019, Smith serves as a producer on several projects, including those in which neither he nor his wife appear on screen.
The most prominent of them are Cobra Kaithe Karate Kid sequel series, and Bel-Aira dramatic reboot of his 1990s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Cobra Kai and Bel-Air shouldn’t be affected by Smith’s issues as the two are less obviously associated with him.
King Richardthe Richard Williams biopic for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, was also produced by Westbrook.
Westbrook was recently valued at $600 million after selling a minority stake to former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer.
There are also several works in the works in a jumble of studios and streamers, including Emancipationa remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring Smith and Kevin Hart, an adaptation of the alchemist and a sequel to I’m a legend.
None of these projects is very advanced in its development. Hart said in mid-2021 that he and Smith were “still trying to figure out” the Planes, trains and automobiles remake.
He said Forbes, “Right now, it’s on the table. The world of development is long and we know the intellectual property is there. Everyone was ready to let us in, but we have to crack the code on what the story is.
Originally published as Will Smith’s upcoming projects are all in jeopardy