Will Smith’s Return to the Big Screen: Can Audiences Move Past the Oscars Incident?

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Will Smith’s Return to the Big Screen: Can Audiences Move Past the Oscars Incident?

Will Smith’s Return to the Big Screen: Can Audiences Move Past the Oscars Incident? Credit: Oscars 2022

The Unforgettable Oscars Moment That Changed Will Smith’s Career

The infamous altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars will forever be etched in the annals of the prestigious event. While Chris Rock has moved on and even incorporated the incident into his comedy, Will Smith’s career will always bear the scars of that fateful night. Once regarded as one of the most likable actors in Hollywood, the Oscar winner’s good guy image has been tarnished, revealing deeper issues in the 54-year-old’s life. Although we won’t delve into the details of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s marriage, it’s evident that their relationship played a significant role in the actor’s decision to slap Chris Rock.

After a brief hiatus from the public eye, Smith issued an apology, but the response was mixed. The fact that he used the apology video to promote Jaden’s water company didn’t help, making the whole thing feel insincere. Since then, Smith has kept a low profile, but he’s now gearing up for his next film, Emancipation, directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-starring Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, and Gilbert Owuor. Despite its potential for an Oscar run, there’s a noticeable lack of buzz surrounding the film. Why?

Will Smith’s Return to the Big Screen: Can Audiences Move Past the Oscars Incident? Credit: Emancipation

Will Smith Acknowledges the Lingering Impact of the Oscars Incident

The primary reason for the lack of excitement around Emancipation is Will Smith himself. Apple chose to postpone the film’s festival run in the wake of the Oscars incident, making it difficult to promote the movie with the memory of that night still fresh in people’s minds. Smith is well aware that some fans may not be ready to see him on the big screen again, telling journalist Kevin McCarthy, “I completely understand that if someone is not ready, I would respect that and allow them their space not to be ready. My deepest concern is my team… At this point, that’s what I’m working for.”

It’s uncertain how the upcoming Apple TV+ film will perform. Although Smith is banned from attending the Oscars for ten years, he’s still eligible for nominations and wins. However, nominating him in the aftermath of the 2022 Oscars debacle would be a politically risky move, as many criticized the Academy for their inaction following the slap and deemed the punishment insufficient.

Will Smith’s Return to the Big Screen: Can Audiences Move Past the Oscars Incident? Credit: Emancipation

Will the Oscars Incident Affect the Entire Film?

It’s possible that the entire film, including the chances of nominations for Antoine Fuqua, Ben Foster, or the movie itself, could be negatively impacted by its association with Will Smith. While it’s not impossible for Emancipation to receive nominations if it’s truly exceptional, the Oscars have a history of being influenced by politics. Hollywood is, after all, a political beast.

The reception of Emancipation will be intriguing to observe. The film will have a one-week theatrical run before debuting on Apple TV+ on December 9th, making it difficult to gauge Smith’s current box office appeal. However, the feedback and viewership of Emancipation will provide valuable insight into whether audiences are ready to embrace Will Smith onscreen once more. While his actions at the Oscars were undoubtedly regrettable, he shouldn’t be haunted by them forever. That being said, it might still be too soon for his return to the big screen.

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