Though he was left disappointed this year by the poor box office performance of After Earth, Will Smith isn’t slowing down when it comes to his plans for future roles. As we reported earlier today, his decision of whether or not to return for Independence Day 2 is still in flux, but he’s already set to star in novel adaptation Winter’s Tale and heist movie Focus alongside Margot Robbie.
Fortunately, the success of last year’s sequel, Men in Black 3, was more than enough to prove that Smith is still a very bankable actor (though he should stay away from any more M. Night Shyamalan movies). A full decade after the release of Men in Black 2, he reprised his role as the smart-mouthed Agent J in a plot that sent him all the way back to 1969 in order to save Agent K (Josh Brolin/Tommy Lee Jones) from being assassinated. Smith has said that he’s not keen to return to the Men in Black franchise, but it seems that he’s not quite done taking trips through time.
TheWrap now reports that Smith is currently attached to Selling Time, a supernatural thriller from Twentieth Century Fox. Though he’s not signed anything just yet, TheWrap cites “multiple individuals familiar with the project” as saying that he’s closing in on a deal to take the lead role, and that several A-list filmmakers are also showing interest in the movie.
Originally scripted by former DreamWorks TV president Dan McDermott, who also has a writing credit on Eagle Eye, Selling Time is about a man who is given a chance to relive the worst day of his life with the knowledge that doing so will take seven years off his life expectancy. The project has been in development for years, and this is not the first time that Smith has been attached to star in it. He was set the play the lead a few years ago, only to walk away due to scheduling conflicts. Luckily, by the time he made another pass, the script was still sitting around undeveloped.
During its time spent marinating in development hell, Selling Time had Spike Lee attached to direct at one point and it also underwent rewrites from several writers, including Lee himself and brothers Derick and Steven Martini (Louis). With things apparently getting moving again, McDermott will do another rewrite of the script before it goes to screen.
Although the premise might sound distinctly sci-fi, Selling Time is being described as a supernatural thriller and therefore Smith’s character could be making a literal deal with the devil. Time travel always raises a lot of questions to do with the technicalities, but it sounds like it could work in a similar way to The Butterfly Effect, in which the main character could go back in time and make different decisions, and would then wake up in a timeline altered by whatever actions he had taken.
The one-sentence pitch is certainly engaging, if only because it inspires people to try out the thought exercise for themselves. Is losing seven years off a lifespan worth it if you can make the remaining years happier? If Smith’s character was destined to live to a ripe old age, then a loss of seven years might leave him with a lot of time. But if he was going to go out in his forties, then reliving the single bad day could be an instant death sentence.
We’ll keep you updated on Selling Time as the project develops.