‘After Earth’ is the First Big Bomb of Summer 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hangover Part III may both be performing far below studio expectations, but the first true bomb of the summer movie season is After Earth, a movie that stars a man who has been a consistent summer box office draw for almost 20 years.
Fast & Furious 6 took a big dip in box office numbers in its second weekend, but the fact that it still held on to first place means that M. Night Shyamalan‘s sci-fi drama landed with a big thud. Starring Will Smith and his real-life son, Jaden, from a story idea by the elder Smith himself, made only $27 million over the weekend. This was good enough only for third place, and draws comparisons to recent sci-fi box office disasters John Carter and Battleship.
Adding insult to injury, the much smaller Now You See Me, a magic-themed heist thriller with a likable cast including the likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman, drew fantastic word-of-mouth and showed up After Earth by earning $28 million, much better than expected.
Will Smith has been a consistent box office draw since Independence Day bowed in 1996, bringing blockbuster numbers even to romantic comedies (Hitch) and family dramas (The Pursuit of Happyness, in which he also starred with son Jaden). After Earth marks the weakest opening for one of his films since his big-screen debut in Made in America. It performed even worse than the much-reviled Wild Wild West.
Where did After Earth go wrong? Shyamalan’s name likely didn’t help, though it was wisely kept out of the marketing. Scathing critic reviews and middling word-of-mouth will keep After Earth from having much of a presence at the box office at all in the coming weeks. The film’s release date was moved up a week to keep a bit of distance from the incoming Man of Steel, but it isn’t going to matter.
Smith has always been a big draw overseas (last year, Men in Black III pulled in over $600 million worldwide, most of that from foreign markets), so the studio is hoping for a foreign boost, but After Earth looks like it will be lucky to recoup its rather large budget.
Were you one of the few who saw After Earth over the weekend? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below.