Reviews in thus far have been decidedly negative, as After Earth seems positioned to become Will Smith’s worst-rated feature film ever, currently at a low 12% on movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with 67 reviews in (59 of them pan it). Unless there’s a sudden remarkable reversal of this negative trend, the movie will officially top 1999’s Wild Wild West as the worst-reviewed Will Smith movie of all time. Wild Wild West received a 21% rating.
But I can’t say that I’m surprised about critical reception to After Earth. I’ve been saying since the first trailer debuted that it looked terribly weak – from the acting, to the CG effects. And the fact that director-for-hire (in this case) M. Night Shyamalan directed it, didn’t do much to boost my confidence in the film either.
However, despite being critically-panned, I’m sure the film will still open relatively strong, if only because of the star power of Smith and son. It’s main competition is the heist thriller Now You See Me, which while better reviewed than After Earth, is far from being a critical darling, with a 37% rating thus far.
Of course, there’s still the steamroller that is Fast & Furious 6, which will only be in its 2nd week in release, and should continue to do well.
And while I expect negative word-of-mouth to bury After Earth after its debut weekend, I’m sure it’ll excel overseas. Will Smith is still one of the biggest international box office draws. And he’s been doing the international press tour thing with Jaden in recent weeks, so I expect a strong overseas turnout that will likely surpass Stateside box office results, for a cume that will top the film’s $130 million production budget.
I’d argue that Will’s star is starting to fade a bit here in the USA, and I suspect he’s aware of that, and will think hard and long about his next few film choices, post-After Earth. A series of under-performers could be detrimental, and he hasn’t had what I’d call a surefire hit (critical and commercial) since 2007/2008. I wouldn’t count Men In Black 3, which was already a well-established brand. And it wasn’t quite the critical and commercial hit that the first film in the series was anyway.
Is After Earth on your to-see list this weekend?