In addition to being the major Hollywood talking point over the last two weeks, it would seem that Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards is also having a tangible (and very negative) effect on his career. There’s no doubt about it that the fallout from the incident is being felt throughout the industry and it’s having ramifications on planned upcoming projects for the actor. There’s been a number of movies already paused by studios and another looks like it is going to suffer the same fate. But sometimes projects can also go away for different, non-controversial reasons and that was the case with one of his other planned movies.
According to Variety, Paramount Payers and JoJo Siwa are stepping out of a movie that Will Smith was set to finance. It’s worth it to note that this move came in advance of the incident with Smith at the Oscars, though the timing and its announcement are fortuitous now considering how some other productions for the actor are going. Siwa recently discussed the plans for the film adaptation of Bounce based on the novel of the same name which Will Smith was set to finance. She said that the project “got put on hold and then went away” but this was before the Oscar incident, months ago in fact. The details are just coming to light now.
A movie being pulled from production typically wouldn’t be all that major news, especially one of this size, but Jojo Siwa and Paramount announcing that they have decided to not move forward with Bounce comes at an interesting timing in the news cycle. That’s because the aftereffects of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock are having a major ripple effect throughout the industry. Two weeks ago, following a joke by Rock about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith approached the stage and struck Chris Rock, much to basically everyone’s shock. Later, Will Smith would take home the Best Actor Award for his starring role in King Richard.
In the days following the incident, Will Smith publicly apologized to Chris Rock and to the Academy before formally resigning from the latter. There was talk of the Academy imposing some kind of punishment on the actor, or even stripping him of the Oscar win, but the resignation likely got out in front of those two things happening. Following that, it was announced that Netflix was shuttering the movie Fast and Loose that was set to star Will Smith. While this might be more of a pause than a full-on cancellation of the film, which was in pre-production, it does speak to the industry narrative around the situation.
And there was also word that Bad Boys, the biggest Will Smith franchise, was also going to go into a wait-and-see mode on the plans for its next installment. Considering the major box office win that was Bad Boys for Life, this was likely not done without significant consideration of the fallout from the incident at the Oscars. Time will tell how this all shakes out for Will Smith. No doubt it is not a career-ender. But like some of his planned movies, the pause button might be on right now while it’s all sorted.