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After Earth flops in US, trails Now You See Me and Fast & Furious 6

After Earth

Story by Jack Foley

WILL Smith’s After Earth has flopped in America, taking in just $27 million in its debut weekend.

The film, co-starring his son Jaden Smith and directed by M Night Shyamalan, had been envisaged as a big summer blockbuster by Sony Pictures but after being panned by critics the film limped to third spot in what box office pundits are describing as one of the biggest upsets in years.

Instead, Fast & Furious 6 remained at No. 1 in its second weekend, taking $34.5 million for a US total of $170.3 million in two weeks, while magician heist movie Now You See Me came second with $28.1 million.

The film’s failure to perform is being viewed as a massive blow for Smith, who for nearly two decades has seen every summer release open at No. 1.

Going into the weekend, it was projected to hit between $30 million and $40 million, which would still have been low given the actor’s track record. It is thought to have cost $130 million to make, without marketing, which means that all eyes will now be on its international box office to see whether it can at least break even.

But even then, the omens aren’t good. In South Korea, the film placed second in its opening weekend behind The Hangover Part III.

Ironically, the father-son sci-fi adventure is a passion project for Smith, who came up with the idea for the story and helped get Shyamalan to direct the film (his first as a director for hire).

Commenting on the film’s performance, Rory Bruer, Sony worldwide president of distribution, said: “Would we have liked to do more? Certainly. But the film has always been a world play. It’s going to to be opening in 60 countries It’s a movie everyone worked very hard on and everyone is proud of the film. But it’s always ben a world play, and will open in 60 countries next weekend.”

In contrast, Now You See Me wasn’t expected to hit $20 million in its opening weekend, so figures of $28.1 million are being viewed as a major victory for Summit.

Directed by Louis Leterrier, the movie’s ensemble cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco.

Beyond the top three, Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness and 20th Century Fox’s 3D animated Epic appear to have tied for fourth place with $16.4 million each.

But there was more bad news for The Hangover Part III, which dropped off a massive 62% in its second weekend to place sixth, grossing $15.9 million for a US total of $88.1 million.

Ironically, the film is performing much better internationally, where it is outpacing the two previous films, and hitting $82.3 million to top the international box office.

Also going great guns is Fast & Furious 6, which took $75 million overseas to bring its world-wide gross to date to a dazzling $480.6 million, proving that the franchise gets stronger with age and meaning that Universal looks in good shape to roll out Fast & Furious 7 next summer.

Next story: Karen Gillan joins Guardians of the Galaxy