Will Smith defending champ of July 4th

by Paul William Tenny

will-smith.jpgSorry for the lack of posts today, but I had a lot of catching up to do reading all of the RSS feeds I track that had been ignored since Saturday. I do want to get at least one item pushed out this evening about Will Smith and his "lock" on July 4th weekend openings. The truth is that Smith has only had four films in his career open over the independence holiday, and that's including Hancock, so it's not like he's opening one every single year -- he's not.

But I've got some interesting numbers from the past sixteen years worth of July 4th movies that paint Will Smith as the go-to man for the summers first big shindig.
Roger Friedman of Fox News penned a rant recently with the title "Will Smith's $150 Million Disaster." Now, quality is practically the definition of subjective, and I'm not going down that road because it's a complete and utter waste of time. Oscars are won by movies that nobody wanted to see every year where the Academy's definition of good is often a world away from what movie goers use when they vote with their wallets.

Maybe Hancock stinks and maybe it's the best movie ever, I don't know nor do I really care if that's true or not. The movie is tracking to open between $105-115 million through the later part of this week and into the weekend, and that's a disgustingly huge amount of money no matter which way you look at it. Nikke Finke of Deadline Hollywood argues that Smith is about the only actor in the business that can reliably "open" a movie these days, and looking at his resume, I find myself in total agreement.

Here are Smith's last five films, including his last three 4th performances:

I AM LEGEND:              $584 million
The Pursuit of Happiness: $307m
Hitch: $368m
I, Robot: $347m
Bad Boys II: $273m
Men in Black 2: $442m
Men in Black: $589m
Independence Day: $817m
Coming off the hugely successful I Am Legend (which I found very enjoyable, very difficult to watch in certain places and a hard ending to find satisfying but not because it wasn't done well) you have the potential for a similar outing that will be magnified by this being a weekend holiday and even if it isn't up to that level, it's still going to be huge by any measure.

And I'll prove it, here are the last sixteen toppers on the 4th, sorted by year with a handful of Smith flicks tossed in for comparison.

2007: Transformers      ($70.50/$707m)
: I Am Legend ($77.2/$584m)
2006: Pirates 2 ($135m/$1.066b)
2005: War of the Worlds ($64.8/$591m)
: Hitch ($43.1/$368m)
2004: Spider-Man 2 ($88.1/$783m)
: I, Robot ($52.1/$347m)
2003: Terminator 3 ($44.0/$443m)
: Bad Boys II ($46.5/$273m)
2002: Men in Black II ($52.1/$441m)*
2001: Cats & Dogs ($21.7/$200m)
2000: Scary Movie ($42.3/$278m)
1999: Wild Wild West ($27.6m/$222m)
1998: Armageddon ($36.0/$553m)
1997: Men in Black ($51.0/$589m)*
1996: Independence Day ($50.2/$817m)*
And sorted by gross:

2006: Pirates 2         ($135m/$1.066b)
1996: Independence Day  ($50.2/$817m)*
2004: Spider-Man 2      ($88.1/$783m)
2007: Transformers      ($70.50/$707m)
2005: War of the Worlds ($64.8/$591m)
1997: Men in Black      ($51.0/$589m)*
    : I Am Legend       ($77.2/$584m)
1998: Armageddon        ($36.0/$553m)
2003: Terminator 3      ($44.0/$443m)
2002: Men in Black II   ($52.1/$441m)*
    : Hitch             ($43.1/$368m)
    : I, Robot          ($52.1/$347m)
2000: Scary Movie       ($42.3/$278m)
    : Bad Boys II       ($46.5/$273m)
1999: Wild Wild West    ($27.6m/$222m)
2001: Cats & Dogs       ($21.7/$200m)
As I've stated elsewhere, Smith's movies may not be the very top earners of all time for the 4th, or even for the past sixteen years since his movie career began, but he does have the second best ever (even beating Spider-Man 2 and Transformers) and has two films in the top six. And you know what Smith holds over all those other movies that including the ones that did beat him on the 4th over the years?

They are all different.

Smith is the only player of commonality on that list (as far as I know.)

Maybe he doesn't own the 4th or define it, but as far as what a single person can do to own a date and day and be able to open films on their star power alone, Smith is your guy.
in Business, Film


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Hancock looks like interesting spin on the latest superhero movie craze... if nothing else at least Will Smith tends to be pretty funny

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