According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two most high-profile Will Smith projects, Sony’s Bad Boys 4* and Netflix’s Fast and Loose, have been put on hold. This news comes just one day after Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following his shocking face-slap of Chris Rock during last week’s Oscars ceremony. So, are studios abandoning one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, a man who just won an Oscar for Best Actor?
Smith is dumped on the same weekend that Ezra Miller’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is set to debut (just days after the young actor was arrested for disorderly contact in Hawaii) and on the same weekend that Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K. were both nominated for or won Grammys. In the grand scheme of things, a slap in the face in response to an arguable “offensive” joke is a minor incident, especially given that the only reason it’s such a big deal is that A) Smith has a 30-year reputation for being a proverbial Mickey Mouse in terms of fame and temperament, and B) it occurred during a globally televised Oscar telecast.
However, the simplest explanation may be the correct one right now. At any given time, every studio has a large number of films in various stages of development. One movie is made for every ten that you read about online, and even seemingly surefire projects (like a third Bad Boys film, which will be released in early 2020, nearly 17 years after Bad Boys II) can face various setbacks on their way to theatres (or, in 2022, a streaming platform). So, just because two high-profile projects have been deprioritized, that doesn’t mean Smith will never return to this town. It simply means that, for the time being, everyone is taking a breather.
No studio wants to be the fourth to spend big money on a blockbuster only to discover that, yes, the Oscar incident has changed how much people want to see Will Smith onscreen, even in otherwise safe franchise movies.
Smith isn’t required to work, and Netflix isn’t dependent on whether Fast and Furious is released this year or next. We waited 17 years for a Bad Boys For Life that was surprisingly good. We’ll have to wait a few months to see if a fourth installment is in anyone’s best interests.