Sunday, July 3, 2011

How the Fresh Prince became Will Smith

True story: When [Will] Smith was trapped on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set in the early-'90s, dreaming of starring in movies instead of selling Alfonso Ribiero's jokes, Smith and his manager, James Lassiter, studied a list of the top-10 grossing films ever. Here's what Smith told Time Magazine in 2007: "We looked at (the list) and said, O.K., what are the patterns? We realized that 10 out of 10 had special effects. Nine out of 10 had special effects with creatures. Eight out of 10 had special effects with creatures and a love story."

Pretty shrewd. Smith established himself as bankable with 1994's Bad Boys, then went right after that top-10 list, starring in 1996's Independence Day and Men In Black one year later. Those two films grossed nearly $1.4 billion worldwide. Will Smith was right. ...

In that 2007 Time Magazine feature, he freely admitted to studying box office patterns much like Theo Epstein studies XFIP and BABIP, saying that he and [his manager] Lassiter got together every Monday morning to look at "what happened last weekend, and what are the things that happened the last 10, 20, 30 weekends."
--Bill Simmons, Grantland, on calculating your way to stardom