Although he hasn’t been as big as he was, say, 15 years ago, recently, there’s no denying the starpower that actor Will Smith has. One of the all-time celebrity A-listers, Smith seemingly built himself up as a brand from a rapper and the star of a comedic TV show on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to the big screen, taking over monster hits that are still enjoyed by people today. Standing the test of time is always a good thing while in the entertainment business, and Will Smith has done it just about as good as anyone. It also helps that he’s looked at as the ultimate family man, often starring alongside his kids in a few films and taking on roles that are a bit more family friendly, if you will. For that reason, it’s no shocker that Smith cleans up at the box office, in some cases, setting records that shouldn’t shock anyone with his star appeal. And because he’s such a huge star, I figured I would take a look at some of the top-earning films that he has headlined, with a few of my favorites of his falling on the list. It doesn’t look like Will Smith is slowing down anytime soon, so these numbers may even be broken by the actor himself, one day.
10. I, Robot – $144.8 million
With humans becoming more dependent on robots in their everyday lives thanks to their advancements, they are programmed to never harm a human under any circumstance. But after a twist in which one person ends up dead and the main suspect is a robot, Smith is on the hunt as the lead investigator in trying to determine what went down. In his usual way, Smith plays the part perfectly, shifting into a bit more intense version of his Men in Black character, with the hope of appealing to a more adult audience—which he definitely accomplished.
9. Shark Tale (voice) – $160.8 million
It’s incredible that, even when Will Smith isn’t physically starring in a film, he’s still able to draw a major crowd. That was the case with the 2004 film, Shark Tale, which used his voice for the main character Oscar. A small, but ambitious, fish who dreams of making something of himself, he becomes the most popular fish in the sea thanks to various circumstances. It’s a fun movie for both young kids and adults to watch with their families, so it’s no surprise that it did so well amongst audiences.
8. The Pursuit of Happyness – $163.5 million
The true story about a single dad who went from living on the streets in San Francisco to, eventually, owning his own brokerage firm, Will Smith brought the story of Chris Garnder to silver screen life, leaving the audience teary-eyed as the portrays a determined and hard-working dad who’s one hope is to give his son something that he never had himself growing up, while instilling in him important values. Working his way up from the bottom to the top, the story of Gardner that Smith portrays is a life lesson for us all to never give up on what you believe in.
7. Men in Black 3 – $179 million
The third part in the popular Men in Black trilogy, the final version of the films may not have done as well financially as the previous two, but earning $179 million is still something to be proud of. While the main plot is still all about fighting aliens, the third edition has a few twists and turns that are unforeseen to many, which makes it both fresh, yet still intertwined with the previous films.
6. Hitch – $179.4 million
Sure, it’s a rom-com at its core, but Hitch is actually one of my favorite Will Smith movies he has ever done. Going back to that funny guy who starred in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith uses his wit, humor and charm to give the audience the guy that seems like, well, his real-life personality. On a mission to help guys act as gentlemen by showing them the right way to treat women, Smith gets a little more than he bargains for with both a client and for himself. The outcome is pretty predictable, but the story to get there is fun to watch.
5. Men in Black II – $190.4 million
The second edition of the popular trilogy from the original Men in Black, Men in Black II follows a similar script as the original, with Smith playing Agent Jay in a more senior role in the men in black. After his former partner had his memory wiped clean and is content living nothing but a simple life, the two get back together to help stop aliens together who have the mission to destroy the world.
4. Hancock – $227.9 million
Yet another movie with Smith starring in a sci-fi role, there’s no denying that the guy understands exactly what type of actor he is. A hard-boozing superhero who uses an unconventional way of stopping crime, Smith stars as the anti-Superman, with a lifestyle more prevalent of a rock star than that of a hero and role model. Still, as only Smith can, he owns the role, and comes off as endearing while helping eliminate crime.
3. Men in Black – $250.6 million
With Smith starring as James Darrel Edwards, a NYC cop with an attitude towards traditional law enforcement, he gets recruited by K (played by Tommy Lee Jones), and the two of them fight aliens from another planet in a very undercover, secretive way. Nickname the “men in black” for their black suits, shoes, tie and sunglasses, who would have thought that, yet again, a simple plot would score such great reviews, mega-millions and a trilogy?
2. I Am Legend – $256.3 million
While I Am Legend wasn’t one of my favorite Will Smith movies, it showed how great the actor really is with his fans—because people seemed to eat this film up. A movie about zombies and an apocalypse that has the world all but doomed, Smith plays Robert Neville, who is a brilliant scientist and one of the surviving members of humanity. It’s actually a pretty good story as he tries to overcome the loneliness of the world around him.
1. Independence Day – $306.1 million
It’s probably not too much of a shock to see Smith’s Independence Day sit atop this list, right? After all, it’s still one of the cult classic from the late-’90s that adults like me still watch and can quote most lines from—even though I first saw it while still in middle school. That’s bot depressing to accept how old I am, and a testament to Smith’s superstardom, as a somewhat simple film about aliens overtaking the earth is still able to draw a crowd. The special effects and solid storyline didn’t hurt it, though.
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