After resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Friday and awaiting word on further disciplinary action, Will Smith’s career may be in jeopardy as well while studios like Netflix postpone projects.
Smith, 53, has been a household name since the 90s and remained a surefire draw to cinemas with blockbusters like “Independence Day,” “Men in Black,” and the “Bad Boys” series. Following his assault of Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards over a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, early indications show studios waiting for the heat to die down before moving forward with this particular leading man.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has moved production of the film “Fast and Loose” starring Smith to the back burner following the March 27 incident.
Netflix Backs Away from Will Smith Film ‘Fast and Loose’ (Exclusive) https://t.co/IFoYjrXQcZ
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 2, 2022
The film had already hit a roadblock when “Deadpool 2” director David Leitch withdrew from the project in the week leading up to the Oscars after being poached by Universal Studios for a project starring Ryan Gosling called “Fall Guy.”
That shakeup had Netflix actively looking for a new director for the crime thriller about a man who awakens in Tijuana with amnesia to later learn he is a crime boss who worked undercover as a CIA agent. However, the call to fill that roll was quietly shutdown as the streaming service moved on to productions less likely to be mired with controversy.
While Netflix has the opportunity to remove Smith from the film and seek a new leading man in addition to a new director, other studios do not have that luxury if his stardom remains tarnished.
Apple+’s “Emancipation,” directed by Antoine Fuqua, is already in post-production. With an anticipated release for 2022, the film, that had already been at the center of political debate after Smith sided with “woke” activists and moved filming out of Georgia over voter integrity laws, has not been given a firm premiere date by the streaming service. Apple declined comment.
Likewise, Sony has been developing a fourth installment for the “Bad Boys” franchise starring Smith and comedian Martin Lawrence. Though Smith had been provided with 40 pages of the script in the lead-up to the award ceremony, reports now say that project is stalled as well.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 2, 2022
The actor who had issued his heartfelt apologies to Rock and acknowledged how he “betrayed the trust of the Academy” with his behavior stated in his resignation from the organization that “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
These studios seem more than willing to offer Smith the time he needs to make those changes while the Academy continues their investigation into the matter. Their next board meeting is slated for April 18.
Until then, it remains possible that a studio may see an opportunity at exclusivity on a project in partnership with Smith and move forward with production as a marketing strategy.
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