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Analysis: Brad Pitt overtakes Will Smith's star power in 2013


Will Smith and Brad Pitt in comparison

Brad Pitt has outperformed Will Smith at the box office this year with an unlikely victory that puts him far ahead of the game but that's not the only thing he's achieved. Here's how the actor has eclipsed Will Smith in 2013.

First, before we make any conclusions, here are some basic stats regarding Brad Pitt and Will Smith on the web. This will give us our first indicator of 'presence'.

Brad Pitt web stats

  • Monthly search volume (US) : 165,000
  • Twitter: No account
  • Facebook: No account

Will Smith web stats

  • Monthly search volume (US) : 165,000
  • Twitter: No account
  • Facebook: 46.5 million likes

You will clearly see that Brad Pitt has no social media presence whatsoever while Will Smith has 46.5 million fans on Facebook. This is very impressive, and a big marketing tool for movies, as he can show his fans his latest work. Both actors have equal average search volume (monthly) in the US which indicates that there is a fairly even proportion of demand for both stars in general across the web.

Second, comes the box office numbers, that will give us an indicator of 'performance'

Brad Pitt box office

  • 'World War Z' opening weekend : $66 million

Will Smith box office

  • 'After Earth' opening weekend : $27,5 million

Both movies relied heavily on star power, in particular 'World War Z' as Brad Pitt was the only major star in the movie. 'After Earth' starred Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith, who had achieved a box office victory in 'The Karate Kid', with Jackie Chan co-starring.

However, despite this fact, both Will Smith and Jaden Smith on screen together, were unable to reach even half of the 'World War Z' opening. Together, Will Smith and Jaden Smith had over 50 million fans online (if we add Jaden's Twitter account) Brad Pitt had 0 fans to reach out to on the social web (from official accounts).

Paramount needed Brad Pitt to be on the ball to promote 'World War Z' and after his previous outing in 'Killing them Softly' there was not much appetite for the actor in the action, blockbuster/ hero arena, or so we thought. Audiences expected Will Smith to have a smash because he has been consistent in bringing big bold, adrenaline action to the screen. His last outing was in 'MIB3' prior to the release of 'After Earth'. He was a sure thing, but that wasn't the case in 'After Earth'.

Brad Pitt faced serious hurdles that made him even less likely to match Will Smith at the box office. 'World War Z' had faced ongoing disasters during the production and was constantly in the news with negative press coverage. On top of that, Pitt had not been in a big action, adventure style movie since 'Inglorious Basterds' in 2009. The Brad Pitt fan base was certainly not accustomed to seeing Pitt in this kind of movie, but Will Smith in this territory should have succeeded.

Will Smith had the key advantage that Brad Pitt didn't have in promoting his latest movie including a co-star with a big fan base, a recent smash hit behind him, and massive social media presence. Brad Pitt didn't have any of these elements, and his star power was the only driver for promoting the movie via other channels (not social).

For these reasons, I would firmly place Brad Pitt ahead of Will Smith's star power this year. Pitt's performance has been very impressive despite so many elements working against him and we are likely to see 'World War Z 2' with Pitt if he commits. It looks like Will Smith needs some luck to get back in the game to outpace Brad Pitt because right now, he's definitely not number 1.

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