For as long as he’s been making movies, Will Smith doesn’t have a ton of flat-out family films on his resume. By-and-large Smith has chosen to focus foremost on PG-13 rated fare, with occasional forays into harder-hitting R-rated dramatic/action territory. That all seemed about to change when Smith’s name became attached to a decidedly family-oriented project, in Tim Burton’s live-action version of Disney’s animated classic Dumbo.
Another thing Will Smith has never done in his long career: star in a Tim Burton movie. Smith has worked with a lot of big-time directors over the years, but he has never crossed paths with the eccentric and whimsical filmmaker. With Dumbo, Smith seemed poised to tick a couple of boxes that for him have remained empty for a long time.
However, now we have learned that Will Smith will not be visiting Tim Burton Land after all. Deadline reports that talks have broken off between Smith and Disney and Dumbo will have to proceed without the Suicide Squad star, citing “the usual reasons, including salary and scheduling.” The silver-lining for Smith fans is that the actor is still planning to heal in the developing Bad Boys sequel, Bad Boys For Life with Martin Lawrence.
Smith’s decision not to appear in Dumbo should be seen as good news for Bad Boys For Life, a movie that not long ago looked like it might be headed for the scrap-heap. Smith’s career is in an interesting spot right now coming off the financially successful but critically-derided Suicide Squad and the flat-out hated Collateral Beauty, with only the Max Landis-penned Bright and the third Bad Boys movie listed as future projects. Where’s the next sure-fire Smith blockbuster?
Dumbo would have at least given Smith a chance to work for a big-name director in a movie that has “hit” written all over it (not to mention given him a possible chance to work with Tom Hanks), while the upcoming Bad Boys sequel and Bright seem like much iffier propositions. Perhaps the failure of Collateral Beauty coupled with the relative success of Suicide Squad, convinced Smith to focus on harder-edged material and stay away from anything more family-oriented.
Though some might be disappointed to hear that Smith won’t be teaming up with Tim Burton on Dumbo, at least fans of the Bad Boys movies now have some reassurance that the property will be returning to the screen. One assumes that Smith will at some point be returning as Deadshot, the character he so ably played in Suicide Squad. Other than that, Smith’s future seems a little bit up in the air at this point, which is sort of surprising for a guy who a few years ago was box office gold.