With the launch of Hancock, which is sure to clean up this weekend, box office pundits are having a collective orgasm. The grunt and sigh you’re hearing from the industry is about Will Smith’s command of the box office. Take, for example, this quote from Steve Mason:
Will Smith, however, is about to do something unprecedented, a feat never done by either of the Toms (Hanks or Cruise). Hancock will be his eighth consecutive $100 million grossing blockbuster.
I know this is good news for Will Smith and his bank account, but I can’t help but say… What the fuck?
Today, reaching $100 million is almost a weekly event in Hollywood. To put this in perspective, in 2007 a whopping 28 movies cracked $100 million. In 1997, 16 did. And in 1987, only four did.
Will Smith’s eight-movie $100-million run is by no means insignificant, but it does not necessarily make him the box office phenom of all time.
Take Harrison Ford, for example, whom Smith has tied with twelve $100 million movies. If you adjust for inflation, Ford would have at least five more films in that category. His 1985 hit Witness grossed $68 million, which is just lukewarm by today’s standards. Adjust for inflation, and you get $131 million. Likewise, 1990’s Presumed Innocent grossed only $86 million, which adjusts to $139.
When you adjust Ford’s other movies, you’ll find 1988’s Working Girl ($64 million domestic adjusted to $107 million), 1992’s Patriot Games ($83 million domestic adjusted to $137 million) and even 1998’s Six Days, Seven Nights ($74 million domestic adjusted to $108 million) on the list.
And no one even seems to remember Sean Connery, who has only three films (The Rock, The Hunt for Red October and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) that have topped $100 million in real dollars. However, when you adjust for inflation, all of his James Bond films crack that number. And movies like Goldfinger ($51 million domestic versus $456 million adjusted) and Thunderball ($63 domestic versus $514 million adjusted) are in the list of top grossing films of all time.
Additionally, many of the other stars on the coveted $100 million list did personal projects which didn’t even come close to $100 million during their careers (e.g., Harrison Ford’s The Mosquito Coast). But then again, they weren’t going for a winning streak like Smith seems to be.
I guess if he wants to stay on top, Will Smith won’t be doing any movies like Six Degrees of Separation or The Legend of Bagger Vance any time soon.
I like Will Smith as much as the next moviegoer, but when people tout his $100 million streak as a “historic roll,” I have to stand up and say…
Aw, hell no!
NOTE: Inflation adjustments were made based on BoxOfficeMojo’s average ticket prices.