Will Smith’s Big ‘Bad Boys’ Box Office Came on the Heels of One of His Best Rollouts

It’s almost jarring to hear Will recount an anecdote that aligns itself with the common Black Parenting experience, considering most of the narratives around his two youngest children since they became celebrities in their own right is how “different” they are. Of course, the unorthodox nature of the Smith household has been in conversation for years now, thanks to one of the most painfully transparent marriages in Hollywood history. So it’s intriguing that the common thread through all of Smith’s viral moments during his Ride or Die media blitz has been that he, like that last tweet says, is just being real as fuck. Most of this tour has, save a Full Send there or Hot Ones here, been in communion with his Black fans in particular: the ones who have boosted all four Bad Boys films to date, and who, in a common refrain that I’ve noticed on social media this past week, have proclaimed that “we” never turned our backs on Will Smith over the thing with Chris Rock. It’s a mindset Will likely picked up on and leaned into, and it’s paid off handsomely.

In crafting a post-Slap press run that wisely didn’t lean into actually addressing that or adopting a general mea culpa/“please take me back” tone (with the exception of going on Hot Ones, arguably a form of self-flagellation), Will’s managed to make himself feel more relatable than he has in some time. Sure, he’s always been universally, uncontroversially beloved (which is why The Slap was so jarring initially), but he’s also a triple-A star who increasingly felt several degrees separated from reality, as all entertainers at that level of fame inevitably do—plus an added layer of Hollyweird thanks to entanglements and such. His appearances in the last week shrewdly brought him a little bit closer to the stratosphere, and in a rare moment when enthusiasm for the press run matched enthusiasm for the actual movie. And in so doing, he also may have just saved the summer.

The King of the Box Office is back. Watch him show you how to do this.

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