After Earth Implodes on Sony, Smiths and Shyamalan
By John Hamann
June 2, 2013
The Smith Family brand is in damage control following the box office debut of After Earth, as Will, Jaden and Jada are all taking a hit on this, as M. Night Shyamalan serves up another turkey.
It’s the post-Memorial Day weekend and the blockbuster entry is Sony’s $130 million After Earth, starring Jaden and Will Smith, from an original story by Will Smith, and produced by wife and mom Jada Smith (how did Willow not get a credit on this one?). Also opening is Now You See Me, a magic/heist movie, starring someone for everyone, including Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson (hopefully they discussed Zombieland 2), Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine (sequel pairings anyone?), Mark Ruffalo and Isla Fisher – just to name a few. Now You See Me cost Lionsgate and Summit $75 million to produce, or about half the marketing budget of After Earth. Considering the box office power of Will Smith, this should be a battle between blockbuster and counter-programming, but it wasn’t to be, as After Earth came in about $10 million below the lowest tracking figures.
The real power at the box office this weekend belongs to Fast & Furious 6, last weekend’s dominant film, which took in a ridiculous $117 million over four days last weekend and powered the top 12 over the Memorial Day four-day frame past $300 million. This weekend, things were obviously going to cool down, as in the last frame, Furious 6 averaged over $32 million per day during the Friday-to-Sunday stretch. That average is basically what the sequel grossed over its entire second frame, as the Universal entry earned another $34.5 million. It was off an expected-but-still-scathing 65% from the opening three-day of $97.4 million, but has a sizzling gross so far of $170.4 million after only 10 days of release. Second weekend drops for blockbusters are becoming harder to gauge, as Thursday night showings are blowing up trends. Universal wisely spent $160 million (plus a large marketing cost) on Fast & Furious 6, and has already surpassed that large production budget stateside.
Fast & Furious 6 is already one of Universal’s top 20 domestic grossers of all time, as it got past huge Universal hits this weekend like Knocked Up ($148.7 million), The Mummy ($155.4 million), Meet The Parents ($166.2 million) and Bridesmaids ($169.1 million). It could finish with as much as $290 million, which would make it the third biggest film of all time for the studio, ahead of Meet the Fockers ($279.3 million), and behind only Jurassic Park ($357 million) and E.T. ($359.2 million). Fast & Furious 6 is also huge overseas, with a foreign take of $310 million accumulated so far. Fast Five did $416 million overseas, and there is no reason to think this won’t be even bigger.
In the biggest shock of the summer season so far, Now You See Me, the new heist film with the cast of thousands, not only finishes ahead of The Smith’s After Earth for the weekend, but on Friday it also finished only a few hundred thousand behind that of Fast & Furious 6 (but included Thursday previews). The new film following a group of magicians called The Four Horsemen got started on Thursday night, and beat the big budget After Earth by scoring $1.5 million versus After Earth’s $1 million, although the Louis Letterier flick had an extra showing prior to After Earth. Still, that was enough to make headlines, as David had struck a mighty blow against the Goliath Smith Family. With critics stomping on After Earth following its embargo, that Thursday night result may have been enough to change what people wanted to see over the weekend proper.