We all know Will Smith is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. He’s the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films bring home more than $100 million at the domestic box office. Movies starring Will Smith make a lot of money.
Or at least they did. When people cared more about the cast and less about the actual movie. As Smith explained at Cannes Lions earlier this week, it was easier to trick the audience back in the day. Social media wasn’t as popular, so people wouldn’t hear how terrible (or amazing) a movie was until the following week, which meant those important opening weekend numbers were still great.
The desire to be the biggest star in the world caused the 47-year-old actor to make some bad decisions.
“I had so much success that I started to taste global blood and my focus shifted from my artistry to winning. I wanted to win and be the biggest movie star, and what happened was there was a lag—around Wild Wild West time—I found myself promoting something because I wanted to win versus promoting something because I believed in it.”
Looking at Smith’s comments, you get the feeling he knew going in that Wild Wild West was a terrible film. Critics slammed the movie, but it still made over $220 million on a budget that was reportedly around $170 million.
But if a similar film came out today? No way it would make over $200 million.
“Back in the ’80s and ’90s you had a piece of crap movie you put a trailer with a lot of explosions and it was Wednesday before people knew your movie was s–t…But now what happens is 10 minutes into the movie, people are tweeting, ‘This is s–t. Go see Vin Diesel.'”
Obviously, Smith is being a little hard on himself here. He’s made a few crappy films, but he’s also starred in some truly wonderful films: Concussion, I Am Legend, The Pursuit of Happyness, Men in Black, Enemy of the State.
Oh and there was this little show called Fresh Prince of Bel-Air…