Will Smith, star of Independence Day, Hitch, and the Men in Black films is having a bit of career trouble. In this, it has become clear that no longer can Smith’s appearance guarantee a blockbuster.
At one point, the opening of one of his film meant that most of the movie-going public would be flocking to the theaters to see it during its release weekend, and discussing it around the water cooler by Monday. However, with the failure of After Earth and his new movie, Focus (only earning $19 million its opening weekend), most of Hollywood is wondering whether the man the movie industry once called Mr. July can truly make a comeback. Some are even declaring that the Smith era is over.
However, even those who declare that his career is on life support have advice for him. Suggestions include the following: doing less science fiction, teaming up with a big name director, accepting supporting roles, and returning to his comedic roots. Some people even blame his kids for his recent failures. Lastly, his critics are quick to mention that hit movies and Hollywood lately have been franchise films, not the stand alone movies Smith is more accustomed to making. Industry professionals have suggested that Smith reprise his iconic characters, such as that of his roles in Men in Black and Bad Boys.
Perhaps Smith is taking this advice to heart; the cast of Independence Day 2, the long-awaited sequel to his highest grossing film ever, Independence Day, just announced its cast list. Smith and his costar Jeff Goldblum will reprise their roles as Captain Steven Hiller and David Levinson, the pair of unlikely heroes who saved Earth the first time around.
Smith himself says he’s focused on his overall career, rather than the box office results of one particular movie in one particular weekend. In fact, he said that he planned to leave Hollywood for about a week following the premiere of Focus. Perhaps Smith is going to begin training for his next role, which is playing the Batman villain Deadshot in the ensemble cast of Suicide Squad. The film is based on a DC comic of the of the same name. Perhaps he will take Jada, Willow and Jaden on a family outing, somewhere without the temptations of the Internet or the New York Times box office breakdown. With his budget, Smith can go anywhere with anyone he wants. If Smith stays true to his word, one thing that he will not be doing is getting “sucked back into the machine”. This machine refers to Smith’s view that modern-day Hollywood has become where any actor is only such as good as his last opening weekend, regardless of work history.
This isn’t the first time Smith has been called a has-been, says Andy Borowitz, creator of the popular and long-running TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (in which Smith famously starred.) At the time, Smith was really out of his teenage years and his “clean” rapping style with musical partner DJ Jazzy Jeff was suddenly labelled as “bubblegum” and “suburban” by an industry that had previously loved the duo’s work. Indeed, Smith’s charm and humor helped make ‘Fresh Prince’ a hit. Borowitz is still not about to bet against Smith raising his slightly fallen star, regardless of the difference in situation.
Lastly, “Big Willie”can take comfort in the following: If his career troubles continue and he never performs again, Smith has a current estimated net worth of $240 million, not counting future royalties . One can seemingly make a very nice golden parachute with that as a nest egg.
By Martina Robinson
Photo by: Alan Light- Flickr License