Is Will Smith The Only Truly Bankable Movie Star?

Will-Smith-Bankable.jpgWill Smith is a solid actor. Yes he gets damn annoying when he plays what seems to be the exact same guy in many films… but when he’s called upon to be something more, or to play someone outside his regular range, he nails it (Pursuit of Happyness, Ali). The man has even been nominated for Oscars on a couple of occasions… but still… I wouldn’t put him up there with say… the 15 best actors working today. And yet… no other name seems to be able to guarantee box office results like his does.

Let’s look at Hancock for a moment. This film looked interesting, but not fantastic and the early reviews were pretty negative (I liked the film myself). But still… because it’s Will Smith, the movie makes over $105 million in its first 5 days. That’s CRAZY!

But it’s not just Hancock either. His last film, “I Am Legend” also didn’t look all that great, nor was it… but the movie still managed to pull in over $77 million on its opening weekend and over $580 million world wide when all was said and done.

The Pursuit of Happyness was one of the emotional dramas that don’t generally make over $50 million… but put Will Smith in it and it makes $163 million domestically and over $300 million world wide

Little romantic comedy called Hitch… over $368 million world wide

I, Robot was a terrible and terrible looking movie. But hey… you got the Fresh Prince in there and it pulls down almost $350 million world wide

Bad Boys 2 (awful movie) – $273 million
Men In Black 2 (awful movie) – $441 million

The list goes on and on. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of crap you put this guy in… it’ll make huge money. The ironic thing is that his only real box office let down was for his very best movie, Ali (which was nominated for Best Picture and he himself got nominated for Best Actor).

The question is… who else is this bankable? Who else right now can a Hollywood studio look at and say “Yes… if we put this guy in the movie we’ll make money”? The answer is… no one.

George Clooney – Only 3 of his last 10 movies made over $50 million domestaiclly and 3 of them were total bombs.

Tom Hanks – In just the last 4 years Charlie Wilsons War (great movie) only made $66 and The Terminal made only $39 million domestically.

Al Pacino – In the last 14 years and 22 movies, only 1 movie (Ocean’s 13 in which he was just a supporting character) made over $100 million domestically, and 14 of them made under $50 million.

Russell Crowe (In my opinion the best actor alive today) – In the 7 movies he’s done since Gladiator, only 2 have made over $100 million domestically.

Brad Pitt – Normally pretty bankable, but his last film (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) made under $4 million and just 2 films before that, Babel made under $50.

The point here is that even though all those actors listed above are better than Will Smith, for some reason Smith just seems to draw audiences into the theater more than anyone else. Not one of his last 8 films have made less than $135 million. NOT ONE! That’s a crazy track record especially when you consider that some of those 8 movies really sucked and didn’t look good from the beginning either.

So my question is this: Am I correct in saying that Will Smith is the most Bankable movie star (and maybe only one) working in the business today? Or is there someone I’m missing here?

102 thoughts on “Is Will Smith The Only Truly Bankable Movie Star?

  1. to me will smith is one of the best  black actor in the world a fan in st. lucia  moonty francis

  2. happened across this had to leave my two cents will smith is still bankable here in 2009 everyone loves a “good guy” granted we only see him as the press portrays him so i will choose to believe he is a good guy your opinion is your own. Now… as far as your claim that he is not one of the best actors today how can he not be if everyone wants to see him. He must have talent to keep people interested i don’t think when people go see a movie they say to themselves during the film hmmm this guy is really nice in real life, so this movie is automatically great. He plays characters as an actor that people can get involved with. Now great actors are those in my opinion who can involve the audience make their stories believable, Will Smith definitely does that and that is why his movies are so big whether the plot dialogue sequences, whatever are sub par in his films… he allows you into his world somehow relates you to what is going on. That is the mark of a talented actor give him is due. Plus he didn’t just come from nowhere in movies had to start somewhere and obviously had to be good to get to where he is now.

  3. I very rarely go to the cinema, but I really love Will Smith, so I’ll go to see a movie with him in it even if it looks lousy.
    Some of them I didn’t really like, while other people loved it. I think that’s Will’s appeal. I don’t think he specifically chooses “mainstream” roles, but he’ll play different characters that people worldwide can relate to….not just Americans; and not just a particular race.
    Also, I was (and still am) a HUGE fan of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. That’s one of my all-time favourite TV shows, so coming from that generation, Will is almost like someone I grew up with. He still shows glimpses of that character, and he is just so damn likeable!!

  4. Are you kidding me?? Well I think you have really no idea what your talking about. I mean come on, if you really think Russell Crowe is the best actor alive today then your opinion just goes down the drain to me. That’s hilarious (Russell Crowe lol, what the hell has he done). Will Smith is easily not only the most bankable actor but easily one of the best in the business right now!! You don’t have huge flicks like that but just being charming and charismatic. His roles in The Pursuit of Happiness, I am Legend are priceless. What other actor today can step out and be something else out of his element and almost make you cry like that. For a few seconds in both of those movies, everyone forgot that he was a crazy kid on the fresh prince of bel-air. The only actor that had that type of affect was the late Heath Ledger which is number 3 on my top five actor list. What he would of been was something special.

    My favorite actor and easily the best actor on the planet right now is Denzel Washington, point blank, but there is no way you can sit there and tell me logically that Will Smith is that far behind. HIs number speak for themselves. Now i will give you that Denzel does not have those huge blockbuster Will Smith does but lets be real, he has only had ONE movies where the budget was over 100 million ( American Gangster ) so its not like a huge let down or even surprise when these movies don’t get the type of numbers Will Smith might have.

    I was not always a Will Smith fan, I use to think he was dull, boring and could only play one type of roll, the big action film guy. But after you saw Pursuit of Happiness he changed my mind.

    He is up there and will be staying up there for as long as HE wants. So please don’t compare Russell Crowe to him lol, what the hell has Russell Crowe done since Gladiator??

    Top 5
    1. Denzel Washington
    2. Will Smith
    3. Heath Ledger ( The new Jokers just made him better)
    4. Leanardo Dicaprio ( where the hell is he at on this list, has anyone ever heard of a little movie named Titanic, The Departed, Blood Diamond )
    5. Johnny Depp ( ummmmm did we forget about all the Pirates of the Caribbean and Blow those alone are classics)

  5. Yes, Robert Downey Jr! What I meant to say was that he’s not bankable at the moment, albeit in the future he could be. I hope so.

    I took notice of him in Iron man and as a result I will watch The upcoming Soloist and Sherlock Holmes movies.

    Each time a WIll Smith movie comes out, he actually goes overseas and basically advertises the movie – much like a musician. This was discussed in a Time issue (which I can’t find sadly). Over time this technique greatly improves his movie incomes, as more people hear of him first hand and want to see him.

  6. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)

    For my money, Denzel is the best actor working today, and he’s also an extremely bankable movie star. He could be as big as Smith, if he was truly interested in selling out.

    It’s true that his films rarely cross the 100 million dollar mark. But a lot of that is down to his integrity as an actor. For a start, Denzel has only ever made one film with a budget over 100 million bucks (American Gangster). So by design, Washington doesn’t make films that are “supposed” to be blockbusters. He specialises in intelligent, adult thrillers and dramas. He almost never makes films that rely on CGI or special effects, which Smith does with regularity (in fact, Denzel turned down the lead in Smith’s I,ROBOT, a CGI driven blockbuster in favor of THE MANCHURIAN CANIDATE, a serious, character driven political thriller). Washington has had plenty of opportunities to make the kind of guaranteed summer blockbusters that Smith makes, but he turns them down for the most part. You won’t see Denzel in HANCOCK or MEN IN BLACK 2.

    Because Denzel cultivates a more adult audience, instead of trying to grab every available demographic the way Smith does, it’s difficult for him to get those sort of ridiculous Box Office numbers that Smith often records. I think Denzel prefers to straddle the line between being a respected serious actor and a box office draw, and it reflects in his film choices.

    If you look at Denzel’s opening weekend consistency, he’s easily one of the most bankable stars alive. Denzel pretty much guarantees a 20 million+ opening weekend for any commercial studio film. His films won’t neccesarily make 100 million domestic, but they rarely have huge budgets in the first place, so the studios make a profit.

    Denzel is also pretty bankable overseas. His last three wide release films made more overseas than they did in America. On average, his films now make around 200 million dollars (including domestic and international totals).

    The truth is, if Denzel started working with 100 million dollar + budgets, special effects, PG rated films, he’d be close to Will Smith’s box officed level. But I doubt he’d be as respected as an actor. Smith makes films to please everybody. Denzel makes films to please grown-ups. Therin lies the difference.

    1. sounds like you have fun to washington’s poster every night bud… real defensive of your man. Look you are absolutely right denzels’ films are geared towards an older audience but that doesn’t make him any better or worse of an actor. What if he is just no good at serious action or comedy rolls. we don’t know plus any of the will smith movies could you really see denzel in them… no. A few denzel movies i could see will smith in John Q for instance get past the fact that you already have seen denzel in it and really think with will smiths versatility he could pull off that roll i just dont think denzel is quite as versatile which doesn’t make him a bad actor i love him too just dont pleasure my self to his poster but hey… do what u do sam

  7. Hey Michael,

    Robert Downey Jr.????? Except for Iron Man his movies have al basically flopped in the last 10 years. He’s had 1 hit movie.

  8. Dawney Jr. (Iron Man) is turning into a bankable movie star.

    I’ve noticed that every trailer for a WIll Smith movie looked good; I wanted to see that movie after watching its trailer. Sadly, this is not the case for many excellent movies.

  9. Hey “Steve”

    If you think this article is “attacking” Will Smith, then you’re as stupid as shit:

    “Will Smith is a solid actor. Yes he gets damn annoying when he plays what seems to be the exact same guy in many films… but when he’s called upon to be something more, or to play someone outside his regular range, he nails it (Pursuit of Happyness, Ali).”

    Yup, sure sounds like I’m attacking him.

  10. So the biggest movie star on the planet is a black guy and what better way to attack him then list a bunch of white actors you think are better than him…

    I expected better from this site.

  11. After Will Smith the only guy I can think of whose films make over 100 mill nearly every time out the gate is Adam Sandler. His films may not make as much but they are much cheaper to make and for the most part always make money.

    and NBAKID you said “I don’t believe that anyone knows what went on dialog wise with Jesse James and the people he killed in private. Nobody knows that stuff. But the movie pawns everything off as fact.:”

    you mean like pretty much every film that is based on a true story in the history of film???

    I liked jesse james myself but personally thought 3:10 to yuma was terrible. You talk about james having a bad script yet praise 3:10 to yuma

  12. hei….the terminal made 77 million dollars at the US box-office….and bad boys 2 was supposed to be an over the top slick flick…it’s meant to be silly….I,robot wasn’t that bad either…

  13. WOW! I thought Al Pacino would do a little better than that, i mean, HE WAS IN THE FUCKING GODFATHER!!! come on! He’s worked with some of the best actors ever! Keanu Reeves in “The Devils Advocate”. Johnny Depth in “Donnie Brasco”
    How could he be that shit?!

  14. Your right, he’s the most bankable actor. You just can’t see why. And as smart as you are, it surprise me you can’t see it. His fan base is bigger than the other “better actors” you listed. I would argue that the best actor or most versatile isn’t even listed(Don Cheadle). As for his acting, I don’t care what anyone says, he can act. He has proven that. But like you said his best film didn’t make as much as his worse film. Another good acting film that’s not mention though, Six Degrees of Separation.

  15. pretty spot on….

    some honorable mentions could be – Adam Sandler, Leonard Di Caprio (post Gangs of NY) and Johnny Depp….even Tobey’s last three movies were huge hits LOL

  16. I love Will Smith – don’t care what he’s in – I’ll watch him. He’s got SOMETHING (and boy, do I wish he’d give some of it to me!) In any case, I also think he has the acting chops needed to be considered one of the greatest (one day) – see ALI and SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION.

  17. I read in an MSNBC article of the same topic that Will Smith’s worldwide gross is over 4.4 billion (this was before Legend), more than Sandler and WIlL Ferrell combined.

    They quoted a studio insider and said “there’s Will Smith, and then there are the mortals.”

    “He invites the white community in, yet he’s credible with the black community. That’s a pretty hard trick.”

  18. Matt Damon is pretty bankable of late…

    I do however enjoy watching most of willsmiths films and tv appearances. He is charming and just very funny and likable in real life.

  19. He’s undoubtedly the only viable bankable star. That said I’m not sure the comparison list is exactly fair as many of the other actors have taken real risks with their choices and especially in the case of Clooney aren’t bent on only obvious commercial fare. Will Smith works exclusively on patently commercial projects. Even his “prestige” films are big budget obvious sentimental Hollywood projects. Nothing really risky or that pushes the envelope artistically. This isn’t a criticism mind you, I just think calling Brad Pitt’s failure to draw over 100 mil for Jesse James is kind of absurd since it is a very challenging art film and the closest Will Smith has gotten to that is “Six Degrees of Separation” one of his first projects.

    I don’t think his appeal to mass audiences is about his quality acting chops. It’s about a certain kind of charisma. He’s got that “I’d like to hang with him” vibe. You know he’d be the best barbecue guest ever, and he feels like you could easily be friends. He’s got family man appeal for middle America. He can allow people to claim they like a black entertainer to prove they aren’t racist. He’s goofy and non threatening. He avoids roles that rely on guns, drugs, sex and violence (unlike the roles favored by other rappers who break into Hollywood). He seems uninterested in “street cred” which makes people feel safe about him.

    Al Pacino is really from another generation, his career peaked creatively over two decades ago.

    I totally agree the Crowe is the best working actor today, just don’t think he

    Tom Cruise is the only really comparable contemporary actor with the same kind of career trajectory and role selection.

  20. Andrew James must be a relation to Jesse James. I call for a bias on your score keeping.

    But to play devil’s advocate no one is winning in that debate. NBA is saying there was nothing appealing in the movie FOR HIM and while Ross seems to find some deeper beauty in it, it is a masterpiece TO HIM.

    It doesn’t narrow down to a lack of giant robots. its just a basic level of appeal.

    You are arguing semantics. NBAKid doesnt like it for the same reasons Ross does. To each their own.

  21. @Krazie

    Vick played in the nfl for a little over 6 years, in nfl years thats a pretty long time and if you dont develop over the first 2 years people start to criticize you more and more.
    He was definitely an amazing athlete and I enjoyed to watch him but thats about as far as it goes. He didnt lead his team close to a championship enough to be regarded as one of those “legendary quarterbacks” equal to “Oscar-friendly Actors”

    I was comparing winning a championship, to something like making an oscar worthy film.

    Of course Will Smith can carry a film, but he has not shown enough times that he can carry a film that is considered Oscar worthy.

    He is the top seller but, has yet to become the lead actor in something bigger than himself more than a couple of times.

    p.s. fresh prince is on my tv screen. coincidence!

  22. Sina, Cruise WAS the most bankable actor out there. If we compare histories of actors I am sure we can find one that always made the coin, but are they still drawing a crowd?

    That whole Scientology thing took Cruise down a peg. I still tend to like his movies, but lately he cant push out a winner without being a Mission Impossible movie.

  23. IMO Tom Cruise is still the most bankable actor out there
    in his total career , he only has 2 under 100 m domesticly wich is a big thing to kow that one was Magnolia (a very good movie) an the other one was the Robert Redford’s BS wich I am really happy that it floped

  24. John is absolutely correct. Will Smith is defiantly the most bankable actor in Beantown. He’s done a great job marketing himself over the year.
    If he can attach himself to a film that will produce multiple sequal’s he should stay relevant for the next ten years.

    2. Tom Cruise- Was #1 before the couch incident and Scientology hoopla
    3. Brad Pitt- Needs to get his career back on track. Babel was a good try for a Oscar. Jessie James(a putrid mess of a movie) was a terrible career move.

  25. How about Harrison Ford? He hasn’t attracted the big bucks as much lately, but think of his career. Then you have to look at how much more movies make with him than they would have without him. I mean firewall? Come on, that p.o.s. wouldn’t have even been released without him.

    Hell that’s without bringing up star wars indy and blade runner!

  26. It’s not so much that he’s bankable as it is him being a smart businessman. He’s PICKING the right movies, for the most part at least. Graphics effects movies and movies that have at least some degree of humor in them as well as lots of action for the most part.

    The Assassination of Jesse James? Babel? I wouldn’t see those movies no matter who was in them. Pick the right movies and you become bankable.

  27. YES finally some love for jesse james…MASTERPIECE God i love that movie….cinema gold, solid writing, fantastic acting, perfect ending, and pace…..shouldve gotten best picture and/or director…

    anyway excellent post john…i agree 100 percent….his charm alone brings people to the screens….im really proud of him, hes come a LONG way

  28. bigsampso
    Bankable IS NOT another word for popular, Ben Affleck is popular and he shure as h3ll aint bankable. IMO Will is an excellent actor period.

  29. John
    Your facts are wrong yet again.

    The Terminal didnt only make $39M but made $77M domestically.
    You also failed to mention that The Assassination of Jesse James was only released in 301 theaters and was not a nationwide release.

  30. I would say Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Adam Sandler are the biggest drawers. Adam Sandler has hit after hit for a whole decade, and is a draw for young men. Cruise has many hits as well but recently with whole Scientology stuff got the public hating him. Mission Impossible 3 was a really great action flick, better than the other two. Hanks has the magical ability to make dramatic movies into hits, something that is nearly impossible. He hasn’t done any big action, sci-fi movie with lots of fx yet. He’s definitely a draw for older audiences. Will Smith has a huge draw for all segments, old and young. He’s got a lot of charisma, and he picks big action type movies that are safer.

  31. Gil

    I don’t get your football reference to Michael Vick. He was a QB who had great talent, but he never developed into a solid QB.

    Will Smith is a solid talent who has expanded his career, and has shown he has more to his acting skills than simply being Big Willie like was his in first few movies.

    I am Legend, and Hancock are films that are carried by Will Smith. Smith keeps Hancock from being incredibly boring, and Smith is a one man show in I am Legend, and does a fine job of carrying the film by himself.

    Comparing Michael Vick to Vin Diesel in my opinion is a better way to go. A promising start to a career, but then with some poor judgment their career’s both went the wrong way.

  32. Hey what about Jon Voight?!! He´s the man nowadays.All his pics are totally pieces of art.
    He and Dennis Hopper rule!

  33. I like Will Smith, I have liked everyone of his performances even in the movies that sucked. And like many have said before me the reason why is because he is likable. You never hear any thing bad about him. Another reason why he is bankable is because of the movies he picks. This is not him playing safe or only caring about money, this is just how he picks moves. In his interview with Readers Digest which came out just before Pursuit of Happiness he said that he looked for patterns in movies. He would see what movies were successful and what themes they had and then pick a movie that had similar ones. After his first few films, up until he go famous and well known, he no longer had to pick the big movies (case in point Pursuit). So if he did do a passion project for a private film it would probably have a decent BO, maybe not as good as some of his others but still other $100m.

  34. What a great topic for a blog (applauds). I think Smith is a triple threat – he’s pretty talented, he’s incredibly charismatic, and he stays out of the press which gives us time to miss him (so when one of his movies comes out it’s like seeing an old friend). Generally, though, you make a great point (and the stats definitely back it up).

  35. What about Johnny Depp? If anybody saw the last two Pirates movies for any reason other than Johnny Depp they have problems. He has made some stinkers and is no Will Smith but could be considered somewhat bankable.

  36. I really like will smith and thought he made I am legend I mean the man was on screen by himself for almost the entire movie and the movie did that well so that proves his bankability and the amount of responses on this blog alone represents the interest people have in this man not a lot of the other posts have this many comments in this short of time


    Will Smith is much like Michael Vick’s Career. (excluding the whole dog fighting thing)

    Michael Vick was signed to big contracts and never traded because he sold tickets to games. Everybody knows who Vick is and wanted to watch him play. But most football critics agreed that he wasnt the type of quarterback that would lead his team to a championship. Only getting close once.

    Will Smith brings people to theaters to watch a movie and looks like he always will until he cant do all that he does. He will continue to land huge roles as long as he is selling tickets. But most agree that when you think of an Oscar worthy picture..Will Smith movies dont jump at you. Although he has been nominated.

    Both Will Smith and Vick are special talents that will bring people to watch, but they are a step away from being the leading act to something bigger.

    well Vick might be a couple of steps now.

    sorry, i love sports almost as much as film.

  38. the only good thing about death proof is mary elizabeth winstead! she should be in more movies! i’d like to bank her :)

  39. Will Smith has put together something trully magical…you know, if you are going to see one of his summer movies, it is going to be an action packed feast for the eyes. His movies deliver…Is he the most bankable? I dont know…but he is one of the tops

  40. Jesse James was half of a great movie but the other half was so piss poor. The cinematography was top-notch (the best of last year IMO), the score was the best of last year, and Casey Affleck gave a great performance BUT Brad Pitt was horribly miscast. All he did was speak a line and look off in the distance then speak another line. This was a guy that was supposed to be feared and looked upon as a giant at the same time but he was just…..Brad Pitt acting in slow motion. The great scenes were the ones with Casey Affleck pondering whether he should do the assassination.

    On top of that, the Blu-Ray looked like total SHIT.

  41. Tom Cruise got a sequel nobody wanted (M:I3) to $400 million when he was supposedly the most hated man in the world.


  42. @NBAKID,

    well to each their own. Obviously what you find boring differs to what I find boring. Boring is when a film fails to engage me and if Jesse James did that for you then fair enough, again – to each their own.

    But I saw it 3 times in when it was released and I bought the DVD straight away when IT was released. I think I have watched it a total of 6 times now and I will continue to rewatch it. It instantly entered my top 100 films of all time, easily. Just a phenominal film, in my opinion of course.

  43. As of right now I think Will Smith is the most bankable star out there. Around the time War of the Worlds was being released I would have said Tom Cruise, but he sort of messed himself up.

    Still, Tom, and Will are the two most consistent stars that can draw an audience in like no one else.

  44. Another note here, Death Proof sucked balls. Hard.

    Boring dialog spoken by characters I had no interest in. The loss of a “grindhouse” look a quarter through the film…boring film overall. I left the theater to go to the bathroom during the diner scene, came back 5 minutes later or something, hoping something exciting had happened…they were still TALKING ABOUT BORING SHIT I HAD NO INTEREST IN.

    I have virtually no interest in ever watching that movie again.

  45. I understand the character of Robert Ford was supposed to be whiny…I never complained about the acting. I complained about the characters. I didn’t care about them, and didn’t care to see a movie about a whiny dude.

  46. @ Ross Miller

    No, I don’t need things constantly happening in a movie to entertain me. I’m not part of the MTV Generation of people that expect action every 5 seconds and won’t watch a movie if it’s in B&W. If I’m watching a movie that is mostly purely dialog, I just expect interesting plotlines and characters I care about. Kevin Smith and Tarantino and Wes Anderson know how to do dialog right.

    The Day the Earth Stood Still is a prime example….NOTHING happens that entire movie. Most of the movie is them walking around town. That’s it. But it’s NEVER BORING. Same with The Lost Weekend…most of that movie is dialog about a dude dealing with alcoholism. Never boring.

    Jesse James was utterly boring. Speaking of soot, I felt like I had soot thrown in my eyes just watching Jesse James. It was awful.

    The insomnia line comes across as if they’re trying too hard to be poetic. Kinda like “Juno” came across as trying too hard with its quirkiness.

    And yes, I have seen 2001. I actually have the soundtrack laying right next to me on the desk. I wasn’t bored by it. I enjoyed it.

  47. @Nautica,

    well I review movies if that’s what you mean. And if not then no I’m not a writer as in author etc:P I’m just someone who appreciates greatness:P Not to come across as big-headed:P

  48. I love Will Smith. I even liked I, Robot even though Isaac Asimov was reported to be spinning in his grave so fast that he created a miniature black hole. My girlfriend and I make an effort to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air whenever they air it on Nick-At-Nite.

    Will Smith is a good actor. He’s funny, charming, and convincing in dramatic roles. So for me, even when he does a “bad movie” I always like his performance, i.e. I, Robot. And I think thats why Will Smith is so bankable, he’s a likable guy and a great actor. He’s black, so black people go see his movies, but he’s not like 50 cent or DMX who always do these awful gangster action flicks, so other cultures enjoy him as well.

  49. ross miller,
    haha okay anybody who can appreciate dialog in jesse james AND death proof have to be a writer!

  50. @Nautica,

    First I thank you for seeing Jesse James true brilliance but I will have to disagree with you on Death Proof – I frickin’ LOVED that movie. I really don’t understand why people don’t like the dialogue – just because it’s females instead of males this time around sitting talking. The dialogue scenes are the female equivalents of the diner scene in Reservoir Dogs.

    “You said Jesus…Christ…Shanna. And then before the sentence was over your threw a fuckin’ in there to emphasize your irritatence”

    haha – brilliant!

  51. @ ross miller

    i agree, the dialog was very poetic. loved the style of narration they used too. not like the crap that tarantino writes where every second word is a curse word. death proof was utter garbage! watching that is like watching a tyra banks episode, you actually lose brain cells listening to those people exchange dialog. death proof’s dialog scenes were more boring than teenagers’ conversations in the mall.

  52. “they just sat around and talked about how Robert Ford wanted to join the gang.”

    But that’s what the movie is ABOUT. It’s about how a fan who idolises someone but ultimately becomes the undoing of them. How he weedles his way in to the gang and gets on the trusted side of Jesse before having to “do the deed”. It’s all about his relationship with his idol – I’m sorry there wasn’t a bunch of non-discernable robots crashing around in the background.

  53. @NBAKID,

    do you always need something constantly happening to enjoy a movie? The movie allows you to soak in other aspects than “things happening” all the time. Have you seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? Over 60% of that movie has no dialogue and “nothing happens”. And yet it’s one of the finest achievements in cinematic history.

    The character of Robert Ford was SUPPOSED to be annoying, whiny and unlikeable. Affleck played that part PERFECTLY. It came across as was intended right? Then job done by him as an actor.

    Bad script?! Are you serious? The dialogue was poetic, believable, and utterly memorable – “Insomnia stained his eye sockets like soot” as a perfect example.

  54. I’ll also put down The Life Aquatic, which was PAINFULLY slow and boring during a 20 minute stretch but got better as time went on. But still very slow movie but fantastic dialog.

  55. Also, I have no problem with movies that have interesting dialog or where people sit around and talk…ie, Kevin Smith, Tarantino, etc.

    But Jesse James was boring, dealt with people I didn’t care about, and they just sat around and talked about how Robert Ford wanted to join the gang. Boring dialog.

    I’m glad that p.o.s. film didn’t get an award.

    Movies that were slow but interesting: Citizen Kane, Thomas Crown Affair, and I’ll even put Tron on the list.

  56. Yeah, I think you can say that Tom Cruise and Will Smith are the only truly consistent bankable stars working today. That’s not to say that even they won’t have a stinker every now and then, but for the most part, they are a lock. Maybe Adam Sandler too, but even he had Little Nicky, so none are completely infallible.

  57. In Jesse James, nothing happens. They sit around and talk. The entire movie. Then some people have sex in an outhouse. Then they sit around and talk some more.

    I’m not saying the acting was bad, or the cinematography was bad…it was just a bad script. Nothing happened of interest. Also, I don’t believe that anyone knows what went on dialog wise with Jesse James and the people he killed in private. Nobody knows that stuff. But the movie pawns everything off as fact.

    In fact, I thought Robert Ford’s character was annoying, whiny, and I just wanted him to die the entire movie. I didn’t enjoy the movie at all.

    You’re right, “slow” does not equal boring – except in this case.

  58. Hello.

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past few days. I’ve enjoyed reading up on all the movie news your write about. I have to say, I agree with everything you have said about Wall-E so far.

    Anyway, I myself enjoy Will Smith’s movies, and usually end up eagerly awaiting them. I agree that some of the movies end box office records are a little to much to believe. Yet, I’m happy that he is have a successful run.

    I myself am waiting for Seven Pounds later this year…

  59. @NBAKID,

    just because a movie is slow or delibirately paced (I love that saying:P) does not mean “boring”. The cinematoraphy is BREATHTAKING, the acting FANTASTIC, the score is PHENOMINAL, the atmosphere BROODING and ELEGANT, and it has some of the most in-depth attention to detail I can remember in recent times. And I can’t remember the last time I was more emotionally involved in a speific scene than the titled assassination scene.

    Just because a movie isn’t out and out entertaining doesn’t make it worth any less – some movies you have to look passed pure entertainment and appeciate other aspects. Other examples of this are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Once Upon a Time In The West, The Godfather, Aguirre, Wrath of God and to be more recent, Inland Empire.

  60. Another reason Will is so likable is when he goes on his promotional tour for the movies, especially on the late night talk shows, he charms everyone in the audience and the host. This makes him a person you want to see more of. And the only way is to go see his movies. There is no scandal in his life and he comes off as a great family man and husband. People just enjoys his persona.

  61. I would say Tom Cruise is pretty bankable. Even with all the crap people give him about his personal life. MI:3 Total box office was still pretty good even with all that crap that was going on with Oprah and scientology and Matt Lauer. LOL! You put Cruise in a High Concept action film today directed by Spielberg, Bay, or any other A list director and it would bring in the cash money.

  62. Oh and I Robot was a fantastic movie. It had amazing sfx and action scenes. I personally like it more than transformers.

  63. It is about time someone who aint white is ruling the boxoffice. Hell even in my country people love Will Smith more than any other hollywood talent combined. His films are always HIT or above.

  64. What about Leonardo DiCaprio…He’s clearly not pulling in Will Smith Numbers, but his films consistently make money (especially over seas). Plus, almost all of his films have the burden of the “R” rating, which Mr. Smith doesn’t approach that often.

  65. I agree with most of what you said, but I also think Will Smith doesn’t really challenge himself, nor does he pick smaller films. Perfect examples, Clooney and Pitt, particularly Pitt. The Assassination of Jesse James… didn’t really get the Hancock release pattern that it should have, and it was a far smaller film, never getting a wide release, so I don’t think it’s so much the actor, but it’s really the film choices. Even Pursuit got a wide release. So, sure Will is bankable, since all he does really, outside of Ali, is really summer popcorn flicks.

  66. I tell everyone who asks me about Jesse James if they like movies where people sit around campfires and houses and talk about boring relationship issues and how Robert Ford wants to be one of the gang, then they’ll like it.

    Then I tell them if they’re expecting action and interesting plotlines, to go watch another western like 3:10 to Yuma.

    Most people then put back Jesse James on the shelf and tell me they’ve changed their minds. Haha.

    All in all, Jesse James was booooooorrrriiiinnnnggggg. My mom’s a Western nut and she even fell asleep through it. I BARELY stayed awake for it and afterwards I wanted my 3 hours back. The most interesting part of the movie was maybe the last 10 minutes, after the assassination occurred and it went into the shows and famous picture and everything.

  67. Screenwriter William Goldman (Princess Bride, Misery, Butch & Sundance, All The President’s Men) said that Hollywood puts only one thing on a movie star’s shoulders: opening weekend grosses.

    It’s all well and good that Will Smith’s movies end up with big domestic and worldwide box office totals, but more important is that Will Smith can open a movie, almost any movie, as John demonstrated. If Will Smith is in it, then people show up the weekend it comes out. That’s what makes him pretty much the only movie star at this point.

    Years ago, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Grant — there were a handful of actors and actresses that pulled off strong opening weekends consistently across many genres, but mostly with the romantic comedy, action and high concept films. Since then though many of them have focused almost solely on what can loosely be described as more highbrow fare: Iraq war movies, character studies, slower-moving dramas, all of which are repeatedly proven to be box office poison, both at home and abroad.

    I remember shortly before George Clooney’s Leathernecks was released Entertainment Weekly ran a cover with him on it that said, “The last movie star?”. My first reaction was a more appropriate headline would have been “America’s #1 male celebrity” (because what Clooney vehicle outside of the Oceans — and I would discount those as ensembles — has ever made a serious impact on the box office?). But then my second thought was, “What about Will Smith?”

    So yes, you nailed it, John. Will Smith is the only bankable movie star at this point. And being that he manages to alternate between populist light-hearted fare like Bad Boys 2 and an Oscar-hopeful like Pursuit of Happyness (and sometimes strides the fence with an I Am Legend), he also manages something that avoids many other stars: balance. It’ll be interesting to see where his career is at in ten years time.

  68. Hey Nick,

    No, it’s not a splotch on his record at all since it was just a cameo and him being in it wasn’t advertised at all. So it doesn’t say anything about his bankability.

  69. I believe there was a little movie called “Jersey Girl” which had one, Will Smith in it, AS HIMSELF, and only managed a paltry 36 mil worldwide.

    Of course, that’s not really fair as he was in the flick for like 2 minutes, but STILL it’s a splotch on the record.

  70. YEAH i too agree ali was pure greatness and really its his best film IMO

    it might not have made the money like ID4 haha but it will surely last the test of time do to the major impact ali had on society in general….and the fact that will nailed it helps too haha…i mean i will show ali to my children when there in there teens but im sure i would rather give them the book then watch I robot haha

  71. bankable is just another word for popular….IMO almost all the movies will has been in have been slightly entertaining…..but not at all good…..people just like to route for the good guys and to be honest i think most common people see will as a good guy…clean cut….good dad n husband…and charming….put in some special effects and people generally know they will come out of the theatre a little happier….like i said i find most of the movies he makes very incomplete on many levels but still i dont mid cause its will smith and he is a fans fan if u know what i mean….if u seen him on the street and said hi he would say hi back….and for the general public thats what it takes to make money IMO

  72. @ mozzerino

    you dont think Ali, Pursuit of Happyness, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Shark Tale(wasnt even on the screen for this one), you dont think those are Passion projects. I do.

    Personally, I like will smith, he isn’t my favorite actor, but he is damn close, I have pretty much enjoyed all the movies that he has done.

  73. Know how bankable he is? My friend said that Hancock looked terrible, but he was still gonna see it because he likes Will Smith so much. They guy is powerful enough to make us see a shitty movie.

  74. No John, you are very correct. Will Smith always brings in the cash.

    However, you gotta remember that he only does those kind of mainstream films that are successful anyway. Of course Smith’s star power is also very important for their big success, but it’s not Will Smith alone, it’s “Will Smith & audience friendly, mainstream concept” that makes these films big cash generators.

    Think about it, George Clooney may do an OCEAN’S THIRTEEN now and then, but he also does stuff like MICHAEL CLAYTON. I’m sure he knows that this won’t make big money, but he does it anyway because he wants do. Same with Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. For every WANTED or OCEAN’S there is an A MIGHTY HEART or JESSE JAMES in their career. Passion projects, that where never made because they had money-making potential but because they were made for their appeal to the people involved. I really respect that.
    Will Smith simply doesn’t work like that, he doesn’t seem to have passion projects that he only does because he wants to make them and not care what they’ll do at the box office.
    Let him do a little independent film with a difficult subject and let’s see how that does at the BO. I would be surprised if that made over 100 million.

  75. I think nbakid2000 said it best, Will Smith is likeable – and is definitely one of the reasons I watch his films. IMO, he is one of the only actors that has a genuine combination of acting skills and comedic timing. You can teach acting to a certain degree, but ‘funny’ is an asset that is not so easily learned; and is why I think he’s such a great actor. The combination of his abilities and his contributions on-screen and most certainly his contributions OFF-screen make him the best.

  76. well, he got naked in i robot. but i was a fan since, “parents just don’t understand”. so i’m not a good un biased judge of him.

  77. @NBAKID,

    Jesse James is one of THE greatest films of the 21st century so far, imo. An utter, utter masterpiece. One of the biggest Best Picture nomination snubs in recent memory.

  78. Matt Damon? – Last 8 movies:

    The Bourne Supremacy – US Gross: $176 Million, Worldwide: $288.5 Million

    Ocean’s Twelve – US Gross: $125.5 Million, Worldwide: $363.5 Million

    The Brothers Grimm – US Gross: $37.8 Million, Worldwide: $100.8 Million

    Syriana – US Gross: $50.8 Million, Worldwide: $94 Million

    The Departed – US Gross: $133.3 Million, Worldwide: $290.5 Million

    The Good Shepherd – US Gross: $60 Million, Worldwide: $95.3 Million

    Ocean’s Thirteen – US Gross: $117 Million, Worldwide: $311.7 Million

    The Bourne Ultimatum – US Gross: 227.4 Million, Worldwide: $442 Million

    Perhaps not AS bankable as Smith (as with most of those movies it was the franchise itself and not necessarily Damon that was the draw) but that’s damn impressive too.

  79. I have never been incredibly interested in seeing a Will Smith picture…only one was I, Robot and I still haven’t even sat down and watched it yet. Maybe I’ll put forth the effort for Hancock, but the rest of his movies all seem kinda “meh” to me.

    I have nothing against the dude (besides the fact he’s a reported Scientologist) and actually think he’s pretty cool.

    The reason people show up for his movies is because the dude is so likeable. That and I think it also has to do with the fact that it’s the “cool” thing to do to see a Will Smith picture…

    On another note, Jesse James SUCKED. However, when it came out on DVD…you could not find a copy ANYWHERE in town. It was sold out EVERYWHERE. The chain stores were sold out, the little stores were sold out, the rental stores were out…it sold amazingly. Weird huh.

  80. I agree that he is a very bankable movie star.

    Of course I think a lot of those movies are better and looked better than you thought.

    But regardless, the stats certainly show bankable.

  81. No . . . you’re pretty spot on. He’s really the only actor out there whose films are guaranteed money makers. It’s arguable that his films are all successes because the vast majority of them are big action flicks that come out in peak times for big blockbusters. Still, his track record is hard to argue with.

  82. Well I love the article except I do think he is one of the best actors working, when he challenges himself to get rid of the “will smith isms”. I think part of his pull is that he is just a very charismatic guy, I have never seen any bad press about him or just dumb shit going on with him being involved. When he makes public appearances he always just seems so genuine. Thats why i love his movies anyway!

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