CHRISTIAN TOTO: It’s Official: Audiences Have Forgiven Will ‘The Slap’ Smith.

The “King Richard” star slapped Oscar presenter Chris Rock in front of a global audience two years ago. The actor took issue with Rock’s reference to his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. The incident, swiftly dubbed “The Slap,” stained Smith’s career in ways no one could have predicted.

Would audiences embrace the affable Smith again? Could he return to the action comedies that once rocked the box office?

We got our answer over the weekend.

Will Smith and the Box Office: It’s Not Complicated

Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” Smith’s first populist film since “The Slap,” scored big at the U.S. box office. The movie’s $56 million haul not only gave Hollywood a sigh of relief given recent blockbuster fails it showed Americans are willing to forgive (if not forget) Smith’s transgressions.

The film teams Smith with Martin Lawrence again as Miami cops whose bond helps them survive crisis after crisis. It’s precisely the kind of mainstream blockbuster Smith delivered for decades.

Would the sequel land differently given the post-“Slap” era? Apparently not.

Need more?

The new film indirectly references the slap in a clever way that feels organic to the story.

John Nolte adds, “I think Bad Boys: Ride or Die overperformed for the same reasons Top Gun: Maverick, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sound of Freedom, and Oppenheimer overperformed—because after five-plus years of the Woke Terror removing fun and humanity from the movies, Normal People are dying to go to the movies. Normal People miss going to the movies. And Bad Boys: Ride or Die looks like a non-woke, non-gay, appealing, good-time-movie made for Normal People.”