ESPN star wants Will Smith to address Chris Rock slap with Black community before he sees new 'Bad Boys'

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were back on top of the movie world over the weekend as “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” opened with an estimated $56 million.

It was one of Smith’s biggest hits since he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in 2022. It is also the fourth installment of the franchise, which debuted in 1995.

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While Smith has found success again, ESPN star Stephen A. Smith said he was not about to go see any movies featuring the actor because of his slap to the comedian. The incident came after Rock made a crack about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He yelled at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth and then rushed the stage.

Will Smith has not publicly addressed the reason behind the slap – only issuing an apology the night after.

Stephen A. Smith said on his show on Monday the actor has to have a sit down with the Black community to address the incident.

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“Somewhere along the way he has to sit down and talk to the Black community. You can see all the White people around Will Smith all you want to. Black folks have loved and revered this man for decades. He was the closest thing to perfection, as his friend Charlie Mac once told me. 

“Everybody makes a mistake. This is not hatred. I love Will Smith still. But you gotta have a conversation as to why you did that.”

Steven A. Smith said it was Black people who were affected the most by the slap and that some, including himself, are finding it hard to go see his films because of it.

“We know you wouldn’t have slapped Ricky Gervais, Bill Maher, Bill Burr or a host of others. We know you wouldn’t have done that. No apology necessary. I’m just saying a lot of folks ain’t get over that. A lot of folks just find it hard to go to the movies to watch you. I’m one of those people and I never missed a Will Smith movie.

“Will Smith, you’re phenomenal. Phenomenal talent, phenomenal actor, phenomenal individual, you lost your way one night. We need to hear that from you. I’m sorry. That’s what I need to do before I look forward to seeing your movies again, more than seeing a sit down.”

Whether Stephen A. Smith hits the movie theater or not, the film received a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes while the audience gave the film an A- CinemaScore. The Associated Press reported that Black moviegoers accounted for 44% of ticket buyers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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