Will and Jaden Smith’s sci-fi epic opened to a disappointing $27 million, far below industry expectations, and a troubling figure considering the movie‘s reported $160 million budget.
While the movie may recoup its losses overseas — Will Smith is one of the most bankable American stars internationally — the film’s performance stateside is a black mark on an otherwise stellar record for the A-lister.
Smith has anchored summer blockbusters for decades but After Earth marks his worst performer during this season in 20 years. You’d have to go back to his first big screen role in the forgettable 1993 Ted Danson-Whoopi Goldberg romantic comedy Made In America to find a worse debut (that movie opened to $11.8 million).
To add insult to injury, even Will Smith’s widely derided 1999 film Wild Wild West had a slightly better opening than After Earth, making $27.8 its first weekend before ultimately under-performing over the course of its run.
According to Entertainment Weekly, After Earth received a tepid ‘B’ CinemaScore grade from audiences, suggesting it will not likely benefit from positive word of mouth. Their reports suggest that a combination of audience backlash to the Smith family media blitz and the bad reputation of the film’s director, M. Night Shyamalan, may have been the biggest factors in the movie’s failure.
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