By Chris Katje
The slap heard around the world happened at the 2022 Academy Awards and saw Will Smith receive a 10-year ban from the annual award show — and take a hit in his movie career, with multiple projects being put on hold.
Smith could soon be added to a highly anticipated movie, according to a new, unconfirmed report.
Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards generated huge interest from the entertainment industry and the world. The event made Smith the second most-searched person in 2022 according to data from Google.
Along with being banned from the Academy Awards, the aftermath of the event saw Smith potentially losing future movie projects.
Benzinga reported that Warner Bros. Discovery had an “I Am Legend” sequel in the works that remains in question. Netflix Inc and Sony Group Corp announced that both “Fast and Loose” and “Bad Boys 4,” respectively, had been put on hold.
Apple Inc was the lone company at the time that was moving alone with a Smith attached project with “Emancipation,” a film for which Apple paid $120 million to acquire rights in 2020. The movie streamed on AppleTV+, the streaming platform from the technology giant.
“Emancipation” received several smaller award nominations but was shut out from both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for recognition.
Another movie role that remained up in the air after Smith’s slap was the role of Genie in a highly anticipated sequel to “Aladdin,” the 2019 live action version of The Walt Disney Company movie.
After rumors of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson replacing Smith in the role, it is now being reported by The Sun that Smith is back as the Genie in the sequel.
The report says the Genie will also have a bigger role in the sequel, which will be a new original storyline and not based off of the animated franchise.
A movie insider told The Sun: “This would be one of the first movies Will has shot since the Oscars slap, and it is quite surprising, given that it will be for a kids’ film. He has done a lot of work on himself and the consensus is that it will all be very much in the past by the time the movie is released.”
Released in 2019 by Disney, “Aladdin” was a highly successful movie for the company at the box office.
“Aladdin” grossed $355.6 million domestically and $698.7 million internationally, good for $1.05 billion total box office revenue, according to BoxOfficeMojo.
The movie ranked eighth and ninth, respectively, for domestic and worldwide box office in 2019. The movie also ranks at the 61st top-grossing domestic movie of all time and ranks 41st all time by worldwide gross.
“The first film was a huge success wo it would be silly not to make another, and it would be a real shame to have to re-cast Will over what happened,” the movie insider told The Sun. “So Disney is keen to stand by him and bring him back into the fold.”
The “Aladdin” sequel is expected to bring back Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively. No release date has been given by Disney, but the movie is slated for 2025 on IMDb.
“He has done a lot of work on himself and the consensus is that it will all be very much in the past by the time the movie is released,” one unnamed movie insider is quoted as saying in The Movie Web’s report.
Guy Ritchie, who directed the 2019 movie, voiced support for Smith recently.
“I’ve never met a more lovely man, and working with him was one of the most wonderful, great experiences I’ve ever had. I never saw anything other than the consummate, generous gentleman. I wouldn’t have any issue casting Will Smith in anything, because, as I say, he was just the f—ing perfect gentleman,” Ritchie said.
Disney has not confirmed the news of Smith returning, so the report from The Sun is a rumor at this point.
How Disney handles Smith’s involvement in the Aladdin sequel could also set up a similar move in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which previously dropped actor Johnny Depp during his legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard.
After Depp won a defamation lawsuit against Heard, many believed he would be welcomed back to the film industry, but so far he has only one smaller movie lined up.
Produced in association with Benzinga.
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