He's only 11 years old -- 12, in July -- and yet Jaden Smith, the son of Hollywood couple Will and Jada, has already gotten star billing in two big ticket movies: "The Pursuit of Happyness," with his dad, in 2006; and "The Day the Earth Stood Still," with Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, in 2008. This weekend, young Jaden opened his first summer blockbuster, starring alongside Jackie Chan in a revival of the '80s classic, "The Karate Kid." Boy oh boy did he open it... "Kid" premiered to a weekend box office total of $56 million, more than doubling what fellow opener (and '80s revival) "The A-Team" took in.
The coming weeks will paint a better picture of course, but it's fair to say that "The Karate Kid" is on track to become this year's "The Blind Side," last year's Sandra Bullock-starring drama which turned into a surprise box office giant. Whatever it is that draws crowds to Jaden's kung fu stylings, it's clearly working. Now the young actor finds himself at a crossroads: how to best leverage this newfound success to benefit his burgeoning career.
For now, Jaden has just one follow-up in the works: family fantasy/adventure flick "Amulet," in which he will star alongside his real-life sister Willow. Unsurprisingly, that movie is being produced by papa Will's Overbook Entertainment. But what else could there be for young Jaden?
Many people have pointed out the boy's resemblance to Riley Freeman, star of the comic strip-turned-hit animated series "The Boondocks." No one has ever mentioned any plans to further adapt the source material into a movie, live-action or otherwise, but best to start planning for it now before Jaden gets too old for the part.
Another kid-heavy franchise that has long-term potential kicks off next year with the film adaptation of "I Am Number Four." The two child aliens in that first movie have already been cast, but more will be revealed as the series progresses. The first book is completed and hits stores on August 17. It's tough to say at this point how future books will introduce the other alien children, but it's a stellar read and will likely breed a great film franchise. Jaden would do well to align his star to this one, should the opportunity arise.
Of course, it would be silly to forget that Jaden has a very powerful father in Hollywood. Will Smith is a man who opens his own movies. Sure, Jaden is too young for his dad to start passing the torch on some of his much-loved characters. But surely there's room for the child actor to appear with his father in upcoming sequels like "Men in Black III" and "Bad Boys 3." Not to mention the long-hoped-for "Independence Day" sequel.
How about one more? With all of the hubbub lately about Donald Glover and "Spider-Man," and the larger fracas its raised over the idea of an African-American Spidey, why not go full reboot and frame the new webhead as super-powered elementary school student?
Okay... that one's pushing it.