Two weeks ago, After Earth received a lukewarm response audiences and critics alike. The film opened at #3 with a disappointing $27 million for a typical three-day weekend. This was the weakest opening for a Will Smith movie since his starring role in Enemy of the State in 1998. But don’t worry about Will, he’s taking it well.
While on Jimmy Kimmel Live (skip to 2:38 to watch the After Earth talk), Will Smith talked briefly about the disappointments of After Earth. It’s probably a humbling experience for Smith, and I’m sure he’ll climb back on top of the box office again at some point. Although After Earth’s box office numbers weren’t official until the Sunday after it was released, Will Smith knew the film would underperform. Smith said:
You get the [box office] information moment by moment. Someone is calling you every hour and I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I felt like a fighter. It’s been over two decades since I’ve had a movie that wasn’t at number one. …That’s over now, buddy! Thanks!
After Earth wasn’t a very good movie. The biggest problem surrounding the film was that its most dynamic on-screen presence, Will Smith, was trapped in a single location for the majority of the film. The film’s real star was Will Smith’s son, Jaden, who doesn’t have nearly as much charm as his father.
Would After Earth performed better if it were a better movie? Sony didn’t do a great job marketing the film, and the film itself was a hodge-podge of science fiction clichés without the charm and wit of a commanding on-screen presence. It’s clearly one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better films in a long time, which is faint praise to say the least, so maybe he can get some of the blame too. One thing’s for sure, we won’t get a sequel to After Earth, and I think everyone can be happy about that.