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Will Smith Slapped on Screen, Returns to Box Office Dominance

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Will Smith is back from the dead.

Or, at least, back from wherever one goes after one slaps the host of the Academy Awards on stage in front of millions of viewers because said host made a pretty basic joke about his wife.

This is a long and confusing way of stating the following:

Bad Boys: Ride or Die earned $104.6 million globally this weekend after being released on Friday.

Bad Boys Ride or Die photo
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in Bad Boys Ride or Die. (FRANK MASI/SONY PICTURES)

The impressive figure came as a surprise to some because Smith has been out of the spotlight for years, really.

As cited above, he made the shocking decision in March 2022 to confront Chris Rock at the Oscars after Rock made a quip about Jada Pinkett’s bald head… smacking Rock in the face at the time.

We truly still can’t believe this happened.

At one point in Bad Boys 4, Smith’s character gets slapped in the face repeatedly by Martin Lawrence’s character in a scene that we’d have to imagine was included purposely as some kind of nod to Smith’s bizarre behavior back then.

“The scene acts as a kind of pop exorcism,” critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in Entertainment Weekly, explaining in his review:

“It’s ‘punishing’ Smith, making cruel fun of his transgression, and just maybe, in the process, allowing him to crawl out from under the image of it.”

Will Smith with the press
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith pose during the red carpet for the movie ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ at Cinepolis Parque Toreo on June 1, 2024 in Naucalpan de Juarez, Mexico. (Photo by Angel Delgado/Getty Images)

Smith, of course, was one of the most popular celebrities alive pre-slap.

But he was criticized sharply for basically assaulting Rock in the aforementioned manner, while folks were then left to also analyze his unusual marriage to Pinkett Smith.

The spouses appear to be together, but have also hinted in the past that they have an open marriage.

Not that we’re judging. Whatever works, you know?

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith pose
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith pose during a photoshoot for the movie ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ at Angel de la Independencia on May 31, 2024 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

For Smith, going back to a franchise such as Bad Boys in order to return to big screen prominence has clearly worked out.

In a six-minute video posted to his Instagram and YouTube accounts about two years ago, meanwhile, Smith addressed the Rock slap.

“I will say to you Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you are ready to talk,” the actor said, talking to the comedian directly and later adding:

“I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” Smith said.

“There’s no part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults…

“I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world, and you know, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”

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