The Will Smith Sci-Fi Bomb That Was Meant To Be A Massive Franchise Is On Netflix

By Steven Nelson | Published

will smith

Alright, fellow couch surfers, gather ’round for a cinematic adventure that’s out of this world—literally! Remember that time Will Smith and his real-life son, Jaden, decided to take a father-son bonding trip? Well, forget camping or fishing; they opted for a space odyssey instead! Enter After Earth, a film where the Smith duo navigates an Earth that’s seen better days, all while rocking some futuristic fashion. 

Streaming now on Netflix, it’s a must-watch if you’re into intergalactic family trips gone awry or just looking for a reason to yell, “Welcome to Ear… wait, wrong movie.” Oh, and if you don’t mind a little schadenfreude where movie reception and Will Smith are concerned, this flick bombed in a pretty massive way the first time around. 

After Earth stars Will Smith and Jaden Smith

In After Earth, we’re not in the hip and happening 2020s anymore. Nope, it’s a thousand years into the future, and humans have traded in their Earth address for a spot on the planet Nova Prime because, well, we weren’t particularly kind to our home planet.

Our dynamic duo, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son Kitai (Jaden Smith), are on a routine spacefaring trip when they crash land on none other than… you guessed it: Earth. 

will smith

But this isn’t the Earth filled with Starbucks and cute cat videos; it’s an evolved, and much less friendly, version that’s apparently eager to get back at us for all the pollution and reality TV we subjected it to.

While Will’s character, Cypher, is seriously injured in the crash (probably regretting not paying for that spaceship insurance), young Kitai must step up. His mission? Traverse the wild, dangerous terrains of post-apocalyptic Earth to retrieve a rescue beacon from the other half of their destroyed ship.

Will Smith’s character is injured early in the movie and Jaden Smith’s Kitai takes a major role

Simple, right? Except for the evolved animals that see him as a snack and an alien creature tailing him for revenge. No biggie.

Through this harrowing journey, After Earth becomes less about the external threats and more about Kitai’s internal journey—overcoming his fears and stepping out of his father’s larger-than-life shadow. And, of course, there’s the mandatory Smith family bonding. Because nothing says “father-son bonding” quite like dodging gigantic eagles and fighting off aliens. Fun times!

After Earth wasn’t just meant to be a standalone sci-fi adventure; it was envisioned as the beginning of an expansive media universe. Will Smith, ever the business-savvy actor and producer, had big dreams for this project.

The idea was to create a cinematic universe (think along the lines of Marvel, but with fewer capes and more post-apocalyptic landscapes). Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, had plans in the pipeline for not just sequels, but also spin-offs, short films, a television series, and even multimedia content, like video games and comics.

Will Smith’s After Earth was supposed to start a massive franchise of movies and other projects

They had invested in a prequel novel titled “After Earth: Ghost Stories”, setting the stage for what was hoped to be a long line of related content.

Moreover, the film’s universe was meticulously crafted with a detailed 1,000-year backstory explaining why humans left Earth, how the new society on Nova Prime was structured, and the challenges they faced, like the hostile alien species called the Skrel. With all these elements in place, it’s clear that After Earth was supposed to be more than just a film—it was intended as a launchpad.

But as fate (or perhaps box office numbers and critical reception) would have it, the dream of an After Earth universe didn’t quite take off. Despite the hopes and the hype, the movie’s lukewarm reception stalled plans for future ventures in the series.

The lesson? Even for big names like Will Smith, the tricky world of franchising can be as unpredictable as a crash landing on a post-apocalyptic Earth!

After Earth stands as a testament to the unpredictable nature of Hollywood—where even star power like Will Smith’s can’t guarantee a blockbuster. While the film might not have achieved its grand vision of becoming a sprawling franchise, it offers a glimpse into a world where danger lurks around every corner, and father-son bonds are tested to the extreme.

So, if you’re in the mood for some sci-fi thrills (and maybe a few unintended chuckles), give it a spin on Netflix. And who knows? You might just find yourself wishing for a sequel or two.