Will Smith blockbuster After Earth fails to win over filmgoers with $10m opening day
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The Will Smith blockbuster After Earth is on course to be the box office bomb of the summer after being slammed by US critics and underperforming in cinemas on its opening day.
According to official figures the sci-fi epic, directed by M Night Shyamalan, took between nine and $10m at the US box office on Friday – only a fraction of its predicted gross.
By contrast, Smith’s 2012 summer blockbuster Men In Black 3 scored an opening weekend of $55m when it was released on Memorial Day last May.
The actor’s other recent efforts have also started strongly, with Hancock opening to $62.6m in 2008 and I Am Legend scoring an opening weekend of $77.2m in 2007.
However After Earth - in which Smith shares the screen with his son Jaden – has not been helped by almost universally negative reviews.
The film stars Smith as General Cypher Raige, who together with his son Kitai, crash-lands on Earth over 1,000 years after the human race has fled.
With Cypher injured Kitai has to make a perilous journey summon help via their rescue beacon – leaving him at the mercy of the aliens and other creatures that now inhabit the planet.
As well as the scathing reviews – with Rolling Stone calling it an ‘unholy mess’ and the New York Times accusing the film of being a ‘big-screen vanity project’, others have suggested the film’s plot is a thinly veiled take on the teachings of Scientology.
Critics have particularly cited one of the film’s most arresting visual images – that of Smith the younger kneeling while a volcano erupts in the background – as being similar to the cover of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard’s book Dianetics.
Others have pointed out resemblances between aspects of the plot and Hubbard’s teachings – although ultimately its biggest similarity could be as a box office bomb to rival that other Scientology-inspired sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth.
That film, which starred John Travolta, lost around $73m when it was released in 2000, and is often regarded as one of the worst films ever made.