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'After Earth' Fails to Open at Number One, Lags Behind 'Now You See Me' As Top Newcomer

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood June 1, 2013 at 2:37PM

As Sony's "After Earth" opened Friday, an irresistible force (Will Smith, with a two-decade record of #1 openings) met an unmovable object (director M. Night Shyamalan's declining box office and critical appeal), and the latter won. "After Earth," top-heavy with Smith family involvement (Smith's co-star is his son Jaden) looks to end up in third place for the weekend with a below-expectations $9.8 million for Friday.
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Jaden Smith in "After Earth."
Jaden Smith in "After Earth."

As Sony's "After Earth" opened Friday, an irresistible force (Will Smith, with a two-decade record of #1 openings) met an unmovable object (director M. Night Shyamalan's declining box office and critical appeal), and the latter won. "After Earth," top-heavy with Smith family involvement (Smith's co-star is his son Jaden) looks to end up in third place for the weekend with a below-expectations $9.8 million for Friday.

In the sci-fi movie's defense, it fell only $700,000 below repeat #1 "Fast and Furious 6" (Universal) which dropped around 70% from its opening day. Lionsgate's less-heralded "Now You See Me," featuring a cast of respected if not box office-marquee actors Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, looks to eke out a narrow #2 showing after grossing $10 million its first day, above what was anticipated.

Despite the disappointing news for Sony (facing a $135 million production budget, which means that international will need to gross a higher than usual multiple of the domestic gross for the film to break even), overall business actually was up around 20% from the same weekend last year for the top 10 ($49 million, up from $41). This comes after the best week of 2013, at $368 million more than 50% better than exactly one year earlier, suggesting that the slate this year could bring the cumulative total closer to 2012. "Man of Steel" coming in two weeks could be a big boost to closing the gap.

The rest of the holdovers in the top 10 fell 50% or more from last Friday, led by an almost two-thirds drop for Warner Bros.' "Hangover 3," which for the moment is #4, with Paramount's "Star Trek Into Darkness" in fifth place. Twentieth Century Fox's "Epic" could jump up as high as #4 when weekend matinees are totaled, but at the moment it is lagging behind what high-end 3-D animated films should be. "Iron Man 3," "The Great Gatsby" and Indian film "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deew" (Eros, in only 169 theaters) look to round out the top 10.


This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, After Earth, Now You See Me, Fast and Furious


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.