After Earth Flops On Opening Weekend

Will Smith experienced a rare disappointment at the box-office this weekend as he and his son’s sci-fi tale “After Earth” came in well under expectations.

Opening in third place with $26.5 million, that’s $12-17 million less than anticipated by the studio. It’s also half the opening of the similarly star-powered sci-fi tale “Oblivion” the other month.

The lack of interest isn’t a major surprise, reviews for the film were scathing and little better than director M. Night Shyamalan’s last big screen outing “The Last Airbender”. In fact, an article at Vulture makes the interesting (if flawed) argument that the whole film is essentially Will Smith’s love letter to Scientology.

An official spokesperson for the church sent the following response: “The myth launched by a handful of self-promoters that After Earth is about the Scientology religion and its tenets is silly nonsense. After Earth has as much to do with Scientology as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Moby Dick, King Arthur, Homer’s The Odyssey or countless other stories about protagonists overcoming fears and opponents” and then asks people to see its website for accurate information on the Church’s teachings.

With a production budget at an estimated $130 million, this will have to earn some serious overseas coin in coming weeks if the studio hopes to turn a profit.

The early demise of ‘Earth’ is one of the few sour notes at the box-office this weekend though. “Fast and Furious 6” remained at the top with a $34 million second weekend. That’s down a steep 65%, but the film is still sitting very pretty with a $170 million domestic cume in just ten days.

In second was Louis Leterrier’s magic-themed heist thriller “Now You See Me” which over performed estimates and clocked up $27.5 million. Reviews were mixed, but as it was shot for $75 million with a lot of pre-sales covering most of that – the film looks like it’ll make a nice little profit for Lionsgate.