Will Smith’s Career Damage After Slap, Execs Say “He’s Not Kryptonite”

While it seems clear that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will take steps to discipline Will Smith after the scandalous slap, opinion is predominantly in Hollywood that the case will just be a small crack in the star’s life. long acting career.

“He’s not kryptonite yet,” said one studio executive. “He has to sit in the box for a bit. He’s going to do some interviews with someone like Gayle King and it’s going to be washed away. ” The person continued: “He was never violent on set. He was more accommodating. And you read about what he did on set. King Richard set.” (Among other gestures, Smith gave the film’s cast a bonus to compensate for the series’ daily release on HBO Max.)

Another longtime studio executive agrees that there are still many pitfalls in the way Smith manages in the future. For example, if he can openly reconcile with Chris Rock, it could help strengthen his image. But the top industry veteran is a little more cautious, saying that anyone casting Smith in a movie or series will have to consider the challenge of trying to promote a project knowing that reporters are sure to Will definitely ask Smith and the other members about the incident. “I think [studios] will think again – do they need to gain weight? ‘ he said. ‘People will do the equation, ‘I’ve got Will Smith, but now I’ve got this baggage and they’re going to perform the slap. Do I need that, and is it available? ‘ The other side is, ‘I’ve got Will Smith, and he needs to come back, and I’ll restore his luster.’ You will consider factors – what the movie is, how much it will cost [his reps] say, ‘Will really wants to do this and it’s important to him,’ there are many ways for him to say, ‘I’m discounting but no [permanently] cut it. ‘”

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But one marketing executive said she thinks Smith will face more lasting damage. She feels that he has revealed a dark side and an entire sequence of events – the slap, the self-justifying speech, the dance at the Vanity Fair partying and an Instagram apology hit her as shallow and disrespectful – will cause lasting damage. She also suggests that Smith’s long career has left him overexposed. Some of his more recent projects, including 2019 Gemini and The beauty of collateral She points out in 2016, was underrated and had poor results.

Smith now has a TV series about the escape from slavery by Apple + Emancipation in post-production. The streamer is scheduled to launch in 2022 but has not determined a release date. Apple declined to comment. On the other hand, Smith has several projects in pre-production, including Bad Boys 4, but no start date is set. One studio executive wonders if Smith will be eager to work in front of the camera again once he has an Oscar, or if he will focus on production.

One area where Smith can be challenged is the award space. Actor branch member Rutanya Alda told CHEAP Smith “makes me wish I hadn’t voted for him. It changed the whole tone of the evening. I will never vote for anything Will Smith participates in again. A media expert who voted for the award agrees that he will not vote for Smith in the future. “Assaulting a man and then ending the evening dancing at Vanity Fair partying — talking about getting it all wrong,” he said. Like Emancipation seems to be a prize game, such feelings may hinder its prospects in that respect.

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One studio believes the appropriate response from the Academy is to banish Smith permanently – which might actually help him. “It won’t affect his career, but people will think he got his punishment and we can forgive him,” he said. “And he might say, ‘That’s what I deserve. I have no respect for the Academy and that’s what I deserve. ‘” (Smith will still be eligible for the prize.)

In fact, the person suggested that the Academy could suffer more lasting reputational damage than Smith if it were to “dry up” in disciplining the star. Tim Solberg, professor of art business at Washington University’s Olin School of Business in St. Louis, also said he believes Smith will not face any consequences from the incident, but “The Academy itself could suffer if it does not act. “

Smith’s own business ventures may also be affected at this time. He is a brand ambassador for Fitbit who said CHEAP“We are assessing the situation and do not have any information to share at this time.”

Westbrook Inc., the production company controlled by the actor and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, raised $60 million at a $600 million valuation in January from Blackstone-backed Candle Media. The rich valuation is evidenced in part by Smith’s big star, it seems that everyone in town is eager to work with him, and with Westbrook securing a piece of every project that has participation of this couple (as well as other projects like Bel-Air and Cobra Kai).

If Smith is no longer welcomed by studios or fellow stars, that will certainly have a negative impact on Westbrook and its potential business, after raising cash, when it should be in mode. extensibility.

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Alex Weprin and Danielle Directo-Meston contributed to this report.

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