Will Smith used to be a movie star. Now, he’s starring in (voicing) the animated action/comedy Spies In Disguise. Along with Tom Spiderman Holland. The idea here is that Smith’s 007-type spy guy becomes a “fly” guy when he is accidentally turned into a… pigeon. Cause that’s the great undercover disguise being developed. Yeah…
And like any silly premise like you might find on a Saturday Night Live sketch, it’s kinda funny. For a couple minutes. Then it goes stale. Enjoy the next 75 minutes!
The movie quietly tanked on Christmas Day, doing about 5 million on it’s first day (Rise Of Skywalker did 35 on Christmas, it’s seventh day in release). Yeah it’ll do some holiday/kids vacation business but make no mistake, this is a very poor showing for the once bankable Smith.
But the tanking of the movie isn’t the story.
The story is how Will Smith is just a working actor now, not a movie star. Sure Bad Boys 3 (Bad Boys For Life) is coming and will do big numbers in all likelihood – but that’s because it’s a proven franchise and it’s been awhile since the last installment. Like Tom Cruise clinging to Mission: Impossible chapters for his life, at age 57 (Smith is 51).
There are no movie stars any more. Those days are gone. There are hit movies and actors who are able to turn that success into careers – either with sequels or choosing similar roles that remind audiences of the thing they liked (see Liam Neeson after Taken: Non-Stop, The Grey, The Commuter, Unknown, Taken 2, Taken 3, etc.)
But Will Smith had reached a place where he could do almost anything and have success. That’s what made actors movie stars back in the day. Audiences would show up for pretty much anything they did.
Oh but Spies In Disguise is animated, that’s different, right? Like Shark Tale in 2004, which also starred Smith? Shark Tale made 367 million domestically. And it wasn’t even well-reviewed (36% Rotten Tomatoes vs Spies at 73%). Spies probably won’t even make it to 100. Feels like it’s headed for 70-80 to me.
And if you wanna talk live-action we can dig into the disaster that was Gemini Man. A movie that might have had a chance back in the 90s, when Smith was a star. Hey Will, it’s almost 2020 in case you’ve been napping. Some things have changed. I know you’ve heard of Netflix cause you did the unwatchable Bright for them, which is like making a direct-to-video movie. Did movie stars used to do that, Will?
Timing plus project plus luck can turn any movie into a hit. And everyone involved gets a career boost. That doesn’t mean everyone involved is a superstar. Audiences have gotten much more fickle now that they have about a zillion entertainment options.
Will Smith is fine. He still has talent. And in the right role he can still deliver a hit movie. But he’s done as a movie star. They all are. Oh Hollywood will still treat them like stars and try to force the public to keep believing they are. But they’re not. They’re just working actors with hits and misses.
Yes, a few more people will see a movie that has Will Smith in it as opposed to someone they’ve never heard of. But come on, face reality. The name alone doesn’t sell enough tickets.
Because Will Smith doesn’t mean anything anymore.