While it seems clear that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will take steps to discipline Will Smith in the wake of the infamous blow, the prevailing view in Hollywood is that the incident will, at most, prove to be a minor speed bump in the lives of the star. long acting career.
“He’s not a kryptonite yet,” says a studio manager. “He has to stay in the penalty area for a while. He’s going to do an interview with someone like Gayle King and it’s going to wash away a little bit.” Smith’s long history in the business will help with that, this person continues: “He’s never been violent on set. He has been extra accommodating. And you read about what he did on the… King Richard set.” (Among other gestures, Smith gave the film’s cast bonuses to offset the film’s day-and-date release on HBO Max.)
Another longtime studio exec agrees that there are still shoes to show how Smith manages in the future. For example, if he could publicly reconcile with Chris Rock, it could bolster his image. But this top industry veteran is a little more cautious, saying that anyone who casts Smith in a movie or series should weigh up the challenge of promoting a project, knowing that reporters would inevitably ask Smith and other cast members about the incident. . “I think [studios] would think twice – do they need the aggravation?” he says. “Anyone would make the comparison. ‘I have Will Smith, but now I have this baggage and they are going to show the blow again. Do I need that and is it -and-which one available?’ The other side is, “I’ve got Will Smith and he needs a comeback and I’ll restore his shine.” You would weigh factors – what the movie is, what the cost is [his reps] saying, “Will really wants to do this and it’s important to him,” are there ways he can say, “I’m lowering my price, but not [permanently] the cutting.’”
But a marketing executive says she thinks Smith will do more lasting damage. She feels that he revealed a dark side and that the whole sequence of events – the slap, the self-justifying acceptance speech, the dancing to the Vanity Fair party and an Instagram apology that seemed superficial and insincere to her will do lasting damage. She also thinks Smith’s long career has made him overexposed. Some of his more recent projects, including the one from 2019 Twins Man and Additional beauty in 2016, have been under-rated and under-performed, she stresses.
Smith Now Has Apple+’s Slave Escape Drama Emancipation in post production. The streamer had planned a debut in 2022, but has not dated the release. Apple declined to comment. Furthermore, Smith has a few projects in pre-production, including: Bad Boys 4, but no start dates have been set. A studio executive wonders if Smith would like to work in front of the camera again now that he’s won an Oscar, or if he’ll focus more on producing.
One area where Smith can be challenged is the prize space. Actor branch member Rutanya Alda said: THR which Smith ‘made me wish I hadn’t voted for him. It changed the whole tone of the evening. I will never, ever vote for anything that has Will Smith in it again.” An award-voting media professional agrees that he will not vote for Smith in the future. fall and then dance the night at the Vanity Fair party – talk about doing it all wrong,” he said. Such as Emancipation appears to be an award ceremony, such feelings may well hinder prospects in that regard.
A studio believes the Academy’s appropriate response is to permanently evict Smith – which would perhaps please him. “It won’t affect his career, but people will think he got his sentence and we can forgive him,” he says. And he can say, ‘That’s what I deserve. I have disrespected the Academy and that is what I deserve.’” (Smith would still be eligible for awards.)
In fact, this person thinks the Academy could incur more lasting reputational damage than Smith if it “stays silent” on disciplining the star. Tim Solberg, a professor of business art at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, also says he believes Smith will not be affected by the incident, but “the Academy itself could be damaged if it doesn’t take action.”
Smith’s own business ventures may also be affected at this time. He is a brand ambassador for Fitbit, who said: THR“We are evaluating the situation and have no information to share at this time.”
Westbrook Inc., the production company controlled by the actor and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, raised $60 million in January against a $600 million valuation from Blackstone-backed Candle Media. The rich appreciation was justified in part by Smith’s immense stardom, with seemingly everyone in town eager to work with him, and with Westbrook landing a slice of every project starring the pair (as well as other projects such as Bel Air and Cobra Kai†
If Smith is no longer welcomed by studios or fellow stars, it would almost certainly have a negative impact on Westbrook and his potential company, fresh off the fundraiser, when it should be in expansion mode.
Alex Weprin and Danielle Directo-Meston contributed to this report.