Will Smith vs. Dwayne Johnson: Which Movie Star Is the King of the Box Office?

Few stars are as adept at getting fans talking as Dwayne Johnson. The actor — whose life is the subject of the sitcom Young Rock — is a master at social media. But he’s far from the only actor who knows how to leverage his online influence. Will Smith has likewise become a major Instagram and YouTube presence. But which star dominates the big screen? Let’s find out.

Dwayne Johnson and Will Smith at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards | KMazur/WireImage
Dwayne Johnson and Will Smith at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards | KMazur/WireImage

Both stars started their careers in two very different places

Although Johnson and Smith are among the world’s most famous men, their respective careers began light-years away from movie theaters. Johnson, of course, made his name in professional wrestling as The Rock during the 1990s. And it wasn’t until his film debut in 2001’s The Mummy Returns that moviegoers began to smell what he was cooking: a movie career.

Meanwhile, Smith first gained fame about a decade before The Rock emerged in the ring. In 1987, Smith released his first studio album as the latter half of hip hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. And in 1989, he and partner Jeff Townes won the first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Performance. By the next year, Smith made his acting debut on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

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Will Smith vs. Dwayne Johnson at the box office

With his hit TV show as a foundation, Smith dabbled in movies in the early 1990s. But his first big blockbuster didn’t land until 1995’s Bad Boys. The following years brought such hits as Independence Day and Men in Black. Yet, even though Smith ruled the Fourth of July weekend before Johnson even made his film debut, The Rock still outperformed the Fresh Prince.

According to The-Numbers.com, Johnson’s on-screen roles account for roughly $12.3 billion in worldwide box office revenue. Smith’s filmography, on the other hand, tops out at $9.6 billion. Both stars have had their share of blockbusters and box office flops. However, Johnson has several different franchise roles in the mix that give him a distinct edge over Smith.

In particular, Johnson’s seven biggest (live-action) hits are all a part of either the Fast and Furious or Jumanji series. Notably, Johnson joined both franchises after they started. Smith’s highest-grosser is the 2019 Aladdin, followed by Suicide Squad and Men in Black 3. His only consistent franchise currently is Bad Boys, as he exited Men in Black after the third film.

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Dwayne Johnson or Will Smith for president?

It makes sense why Smith and Johnson would each remain such huge stars. After all, they share an inherent charisma and humor, which makes them both perfect for popcorn action films and comedies alike. But in addition to their wildly successful movie careers, Smith and Johnson have something else in common.

Both actors have expressed an interest in politics. Johnson even jokingly announced his candidacy for president on Saturday Night Live, with Tom Hanks as his running mate. Rumors he might actually pursue politics have quieted down since. However, Smith recently revealed he could still run for office someday. Whether he ever does remains to be seen.