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The Surprising Way Will Smith's Career Is Already Being Impacted Post-Oscars

A lot has happened in the week since actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at the 94th annual Academy Awards. A mere 40 minutes after the now infamous altercation, Smith returned to the stage to accept the award for Best Actor. With all the camera focused on him, Smith proceeded to give a speech in which he drew parallels between his actions and those of his "King Richard" character, Richard Williams. Of course, that was hardly the end of the matter.

In the days since, Smith has issued a public apology to Rock, resigned his membership from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and said that he stands ready to accept whatever form of punishment the Academy ultimately deems appropriate. According to Variety, the Academy is currently considering everything from a temporary suspension from awards consideration to permanent expulsion from the esteemed organization of filmmakers.

Of course, as many would likely guess, the real-life fallout from this incident far exceeds the scope of the Academy's reach. Indeed, for much of the last week, "The Slap" has become the number one news story in the world. While it's yet to be seen how easily Smith will move beyond this incident, a number of maneuvers behind the scenes in Hollywood suggest "Slapgate" could have an extended impact on the Oscar-winning actor's career.

Development on a number of Will Smith projects has slowed

According to The Hollywood Reporter, development on two different projects starring Will Smith has been put on hold in the aftermath of the incident at the Oscars. While it's not entirely clear that these decisions are directly tied to Smith's attack on Chris Rock, the timing certainly seems suspicious. 

According to Kim Masters at THR, Netflix is said to be taking a step back from development on "Fast and Loose," a film in which Smith was set to portray a CIA agent who lives a double life as a boss of organized crime. While the timing behind the slow up is certainly notable, Smith's altercation with Rock is hardly the only hurdle faced by this production. The THR report also notes that David Leitch, the planned director for "Fast and Loose," recently stepped away from the project. While there were plans to seek a new director, it would appear that this search has been halted for the time being. 

Additionally, THR further reports that "Bad Boys 4," the sequel to 2020's "Bad Boys For Life," has begun an immediate pause, despite the Academy Award-winning actor having already received a whole 40 pages of the script. Interestingly, THR also speculates that a number of other Will Smith projects in pre-production could soon follow suit. Smith's future projects are known to include everything from "Bright 2" to the recently announced "I am Legend" sequel. According to IMDb, Smith is also soon set to star in the Apple TV+ film "Emancipation." While that film wrapped principal photography in 2021, it is still in the middle of post-production and without a set release date (via VarietyInsight).