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July 7, 2008
Is Will Smith The Only Truly Bankable Movie Star?
— Posted by John Campea
Will Smith is a solid actor. Yes he gets damn annoying when he plays what seems to be the exact same guy in many films… but when he’s called upon to be something more, or to play someone outside his regular range, he nails it (Pursuit of Happyness, Ali). The man has even been nominated for Oscars on a couple of occasions… but still… I wouldn’t put him up there with say… the 15 best actors working today. And yet… no other name seems to be able to guarantee box office results like his does.
Let’s look at Hancock for a moment. This film looked interesting, but not fantastic and the early reviews were pretty negative (I liked the film myself). But still… because it’s Will Smith, the movie makes over $105 million in its first 5 days. That’s CRAZY!
But it’s not just Hancock either. His last film, “I Am Legend” also didn’t look all that great, nor was it… but the movie still managed to pull in over $77 million on its opening weekend and over $580 million world wide when all was said and done.
The Pursuit of Happyness was one of the emotional dramas that don’t generally make over $50 million… but put Will Smith in it and it makes $163 million domestically and over $300 million world wide
Little romantic comedy called Hitch… over $368 million world wide
I, Robot was a terrible and terrible looking movie. But hey… you got the Fresh Prince in there and it pulls down almost $350 million world wide
Bad Boys 2 (awful movie) – $273 million
The list goes on and on. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of crap you put this guy in… it’ll make huge money. The ironic thing is that his only real box office let down was for his very best movie, Ali (which was nominated for Best Picture and he himself got nominated for Best Actor).
The question is… who else is this bankable? Who else right now can a Hollywood studio look at and say “Yes… if we put this guy in the movie we’ll make money”? The answer is… no one.
George Clooney – Only 3 of his last 10 movies made over $50 million domestaiclly and 3 of them were total bombs.
Tom Hanks – In just the last 4 years Charlie Wilsons War (great movie) only made $66 and The Terminal made only $39 million domestically.
Al Pacino – In the last 14 years and 22 movies, only 1 movie (Ocean’s 13 in which he was just a supporting character) made over $100 million domestically, and 14 of them made under $50 million.
Russell Crowe (In my opinion the best actor alive today) – In the 7 movies he’s done since Gladiator, only 2 have made over $100 million domestically.
Brad Pitt - Normally pretty bankable, but his last film (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) made under $4 million and just 2 films before that, Babel made under $50.
The point here is that even though all those actors listed above are better than Will Smith, for some reason Smith just seems to draw audiences into the theater more than anyone else. Not one of his last 8 films have made less than $135 million. NOT ONE! That’s a crazy track record especially when you consider that some of those 8 movies really sucked and didn’t look good from the beginning either.
So my question is this: Am I correct in saying that Will Smith is the most Bankable movie star (and maybe only one) working in the business today? Or is there someone I’m missing here?
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