After Earth

We’re a long ways away from the glory days of Will Smith‘s box office run. In fact it was over fifteen years ago when Smith saved the world in Independence Day and busted aliens in Men in Black. They launched him into the A-list, and he was once considered “the last movie star,” but a prolonged absence from the screen, and with huge changes to cinema in the interim, he’s no longer all a movie needs to be a hit. Or maybe not. Maybe After Earth will show that he’s still got it.

First off, in regards to After Earth, it’s hard not to say “ouch” in regards to how M. Night Shyamalan is being treated. M. Night took a back seat in a lot of the marketing, but now that the film is hitting the public, he’s being singled out more in negative reviews. Even though the film came from a story by Will Smith, a story that seems to try to turn his son Jaden Smith into a movie star. That’s where a lot of attention is settling, on how it’s a vanity project for Will to promote Jaden into stardom, though many have found Jaden a weak leading man.

But what’s more striking is the release date. The week after Memorial day weekend is generally considered a lesser slot, but the film moved there from a June 7 release. More than likely they wanted to have two weeks before Man of Steel hits screens, but it’s coming out at a weird moment, and perhaps because of the rush of last week’s big titles like Fast and Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III, it doesn’t feel like a big summer event movie. It doesn’t feel like an event. And that Sony wasn’t as quick to show the film suggests they knew this might fare better internationally. Perhaps the numbers will prove that feeling wrong, but no one sees this as a blockbuster, and coming after Men in Black 3 which was a costly film that was saved by international — Will Smith’s stock is that much lower.

As for Now You See Me, most people won’t.

So let’s write down some numbers:

  1. Fast and Furious 6 - $40 Million
  2. After Earth – $33.5 Million
  3. Star Trek 12 - $15.7 Million
  4. The Hangover 3 – $14 Million
  5. Now You See Me – $12.7 Million

Now You See Me could prove a bigger opening than I’m guestimating, and it’s possible the holdovers could tumble much further. The week after a holiday often causes bigger drops than normal. But it seems unlikely that Will Smith and his son will be at the top of the box office. Because franchises are now the name of the game.

What are you going to see this weekend?