Will Smith is getting back to work — and hopes audiences come along for the ride.
Via an enthusiastic Instagram video posted on Tuesday, the beleaguered actor joined Martin Lawrence to announce they’ll be re-teaming up for a fourth Bad Boys movie.
The sequel marks Smith’s first new project since the star slapped Chris Rock during last March’s Oscars telecast after the host took a dig at the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, an incident that led to a 10-year ban from the Academy Awards.
A regretful and oftentimes-morose Smith has been on a public apology tour ever since, but was in high spirits — seemingly back to the characteristically energetic, good-natured persona he was long known before the attack on Rock — in announcing Bad Boys 4.
In the Instagram video, Smith teases a big reveal as he excitedly films himself driving somewhere. He then knocks on the door of a house, where he’s greeted by Lawrence. “Is it about that time?” his longtime costar asks as he opens the door.
“It’s about that time,” Smith says, filming the both of them, selfie-style. “It’s official! Bad Boys 4 Life, y’all!”
Smith and Lawrence follow with some amusing banter about their last film, the 2020 threequel Bad Boys for Life, already employing that title.
“We shouldn’t have called it that,” cracks Smith.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys for Life, 2020. (Photo: Ben Rothstein/Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Launched in 1995 with the Michael Bay-directed Bad Boys, the fourth installment will continue a lucrative franchise for Smith and Lawrence, who play Miami detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, respectively. The series, which also includes 2003’s Bad Boys II and Bad Boys for Life, has grossed more than $840 million worldwide.
Released in January 2020, For Life proved there’s still a strong appetite for the comic buddy cop adventures of Smith and Lawrence. The sequel earned $204 million in the U.S. alone, and ended up as 2020's highest-grossing movie after theaters shut down in mid-March for the remainder of the year due to COVID-19.
Bad Boys 4 will be again be directed by the filmmaking duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who replaced Bay for the third installment and more recently made headlines for helming the scuttled Batgirl movie.
This will be Will Smith’s first new project since he famously slapped Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Academy Awards in March. (Photo: Myung Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The announcement marks a major comeback moment for Smith, whose upcoming projects were reportedly delayed in the wake of fierce backlash from the Oscars incident.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix “quietly paused” his CIA thriller Fast and Loose, while Sony slowed development on Bad Boys 4. (In July, however, Lawrence dismissed the notion that Bad Boys 4 was not happening as a result, telling Ebony they had “at least” one more sequel still planned.)
Smith had already filmed the slavery escape drama Emancipation, which premiered on Apple TV+ in December to mixed reviews and little fanfare. In interviews, the actor acknowledged some viewers may not be ready to forgive him, while several Academy members polled said they would not even consider nominating him (while Smith is banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, he can still be nominated).
Bad Boys 4 could be just the vehicle Smith needs to rev up his career again.