Deadline is reporting that the film (in (3,401 theaters), directed by Hollywood outcast M. Night Shyamalan began to show that it wasn’t tracking well when ticket sales on Fandango started lagging behind Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment’s “Now You See Me” (2,925 theaters) on Thursday for shows beginning at 9 pm.
The magic-themed heist thriller amazingly overtook After Earth on Friday and should stay #2 all weekend, debuting with $10M Friday (including tickets sold for shows beginning at 7 PM Thursday) and as much as $27.8M for the weekend. That’s overperforming the $20M which the studio was predicting. It earned an enviable ‘A’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth stay strong.
But #3 After Earth earned only a ‘B’ CinemaScore which won’t help or hurt word of mouth. It opened to $9.7M Friday for a $27.2M weekend. That’s much less than the high $30sM to low $40sM which Sony was predicting and which tracking showed was possible right into Friday. Rival studios chortled it’s “2.5 times worse than Jaden Smith’s Karate Kid reboot and half of Oblivion‘s opening” with Tom Cruise. Not hard to understand why because reviews for the sci-fi newcomer were just plain awful: 13% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. To be fair, Sony Pictures rarely has a big underperformer like this. And rightly or wrongly depending on how much you care about Jaden Smith and/or nepotism in Hollywood, the studio positioned the movie as a broad family film, building on Jaden’s stardom from the worldwide hit The Karate Kid and reaching out to young teens and families. Will Smith’s residual mega-wattage was still strong enough to open the summer tentpole comfortably above $20M. But even that and Sony’s marketing prowess couldn’t overcome this Shyamalan’s meltdown, yet another in his string of box office stinkers which have made audiences and critics alike completely soured on him.
You can read more of this report at Deadline.