Why did Will Smith’s “After Earth” flop?
1. Until people started laughing at it yesterday, the marketing didn’t penetrate enough for me to even know it was out there.
2. This might be the worst trailer every made for a big-budget summer blockbuster:
Those 152 seconds assure the viewer that there is no story, just two-hours of a truculent teenager surrounded by computer effects.
The trailer also screams “Son of Will Smith superstar vanity project!”
3. There is way too much competition for the box office buck during the last weekend of May/ first weekend of June. This is the kind of “summer” film you release in January or February when people are more in the mood for something that is so obviously is trying to be brainy and philosophical.
Who would look at that trailer and not opt instead for another round of “Fast and Furious 6?”
Apparently a lot of people did, because the sixth chapter of the racing/heist franchise — the fourth with the original cast — is number one again with an estimated haul of around $40 million in its second weekend. “After Earth” is expected to haul in only around $25 million.
Considering the horrible reviews and the wildfire rumors about the Scientology angle, “After Earth” is probably a dead box office duck. Personally, though, if this is the best the anti-Scientologist crowd can come up with, I would have to say that those rumors are kind of a stretch.
Regardless, “After Earth” is now the second Scientology-attached blockbuster with “Earth” in the title to embarrass a Scientologist superstar (though Will Smith denies being an official member) at the box office. The first was 2000’s “Battlefield Earth.”
Don’t count Will Smith out though. He is still the closest thing America has to a genuine movie star, with talent and charisma to burn. He just needs to make better choices than he has over the last five years.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC