Survival Mode: ‘After Earth’ Looks Abroad

Sony Will Smith Film 'After Earth'

Recent sci-fi pics paint a troubling comparison for the Sony tentpole

In the aftermath of the $27 million Stateside crash landing for “After Earth,” Sony has little to do but hope the film works internationally. So, can it? Right now, the outlook seems uncertain, at best, though comparisons to recent sci-fi pics like “Oblivion” paint a troubling picture.

This weekend, Sony launched “After Earth” in only one territory, South Korea, where the film grossed $2.7 million. That’s 10% better than “Prometheus” locally, but still behind “Oblivion,” which earned nearly twice that earlier this month.

While “After Earth” overperformed “Prometheus” in South Korea, the latter pic benefited from a cult-like word-of-mouth, with boffo results in places like the U.K.,where it grossed nearly $40 million. “Prometheus” topped out at $276 million internationally, with just north of $400 million worldwide.

“After Earth” will need to make at least that with a $100 million-plus budget and tens of millions of dollars spent on global marketing. “Prometheus” reached $126 million domestically; “After Earth” will be lucky to make $75 million at home.

Instead of a worldwide blowout this weekend, which helps publicity matters, Sony will bow “After Earth” in 60 overseas markets next weekend.

The dearth of day-and-date debuts was the consequence of Sony’s decision to bump up the pic’s Stateside bow one week. The week-long gap between domestic and overseas wouldn’t have meant much had the film worked domestically. Yet, word of the film’s Stateside belly flop could hurt its chances next weekend overseas.

Universal, on the other hand, went the opposite direction with “Oblivion,” launching the Tom Cruise starrer internationally a week before its domestic debut. That film never took off enough — either domestically or abroad — to recoup its $120 million budget and worldwide marketing costs. “Oblivion” launched in Japan this weekend (its second-to-last territory), lifting the pic’s worldwide tally to just $274.6 million.

Like Cruise with “Oblivion,” Sony banks on the overseas cache of its “After Earth” star Will Smith. It’s hard to say whether Smith will be enough to carry the film, however. His last film, “Men in Black 3,” scored with $445 million internationally, though the one before, “Seven Pounds,” earned just $98 million in 2008.

“After Earth” faces tough competition over the coming weeks from pictures including “Man of Steel,” “World War Z” and “The Lone Ranger,” as well as holdovers continuing to roll out internationally.

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  1. occultology says:

    America has spoken, and has reached the conclusion that it doesn’t want any Jaden Smith films, thank you very much. Sony should have named this one “After Career”.

  2. Before the film’s opening weekend, I predicted NOW YOU SEE ME would over-perform, thereby out-perform AFTER EARTH; I also forecast the latter would make its money overseas. But now I impose this (belated) caveat: Unfavorable film reviews and the movie’s box office falling well-short of so-called film trackers’ pronostication will have a negative impact in some (or many) international markets. However, comparing Will Smith’s SEVEN POUNDS with one of his blockbuster successes is makes for little if any sense. A movie at the box office is like a stock on the exchange; the slightest word-of-mouth can have a positive or deleterious effect.

  3. Colin Vickery says:

    What is the bet that when the actuals come through for After Earth later this week they will be less than the $27 million prediction being reported.

  4. harry georgatos says:

    I don’t mind Scientology subtext movies in Hollywood productions. Films such as AFTER EARTH and BATTLEFIELD EARTH are genuine stinkers and the art of sophisticated screenwriting have become a thing of the past! The first 3 MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE films have the representation of the worst screenwriting one can imagine. GHOST PROTOCOL was an improvement but not genuinely inspiring! When one see’s the brilliant first season of WILD PALMS, produced by Oliver Stone, then Scientology stories can provide interest and escapism. Hubbard theories came out of “50’s sci-fi pulp and comic book stories and felt inspired to only become a failed si-fi writer. If Scientology stories are to take off in the mainstream they need writer/directors such as Oliver Stone, Christopher Nolan and someone like Kathryn Bigelow. For Scientology to tell people with mental disorders, especially schizophrenia, to not take their meds is downright criminal!! Hubbard in the ’50’s was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and from then on indoctrinated it’s followers with anti-psychiatry propaganda.Scientology knows the courts will only listen to psychiatry when it comes to mental health and psychiatry can question their dodgy techniques in a court of law! That is why the hierarchy of the church is anti-psychiatry! Will Smith and Tom Cruise may have their fake happiness but also make films that have failed to challenge the mind in a truly liberating manner. Thank God for Christopher Nolan!

  5. harry georgatos says:

    I don’t mind Scientology subtext movies in Hollywood productions. Films such as AFTER EARTH and BATTLEFIELD EARTH are genuine stinkers and the art of sophisticated screenwriting have become a thing of the past! The first 3 MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE films have the representation of the worst screenwriting one can imagine. GHOST PROTOCOL was an improvement but not genuinely inspiring! When one see’s the brilliant first season of WILD PALMS, produced by Oliver Stone, then Scientology stories can provide interest and escapism. Hubris theories came out of “50’s sci-fi pulp and comic book stories and felt inspired to only become a failed sic-fi writer. If Scientology stories are to take off in the mainstream they need writer/directors such as Oliver Stone, Christopher Nolan and someone like Kathryn Bigelow. For Scientology to tell people with mental disorders, especially schizophrenia, to not take their meds is downright criminal!! Hubbard in the ’50’s was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and from then on indoctrinated it’s followers with anti-psychiatry propaganda.Scientology knows the courts will only listen to psychiatry when it comes to mental health and psychiatry can question their dodgy techniques in a court of law! That is why the hierarchy of the church is anti-psychiatry! Will Smith and Tom Cruise may have their fake happiness but also make films that have failed to challenge the mind in a truly liberating manner. Thank God for Christopher Nolan!

  6. David Peñasco Maldonado says:

    As a foreign spectator I can confidently say that I will not see After Earth even if the entire Sony marketing team pull a gun to my head. It’s a unashamed piece of advetising for the Church of Scientology.

    • choppy says:

      david… why would scientology bother you? christians put elements of their beliefs in their works all the time… so does anyone who is religious… all religions are magic and stupid so what’s the difference? you decide your movie going on the religiousness of it’s writers? directors? stars?

      • Mac says:

        Anyone who uses the word “magic” in a serious context is an idiot. Grow up (for ‘adults’ this means emotionally).

  7. tvdiva says:

    The preview of After Earth seemed dull and boring, so I can imagine what the movie was like. Hopefully they can sell the tv rights quickly and will make up the money in DVD sales.

  8. The Distribution Numbers Game

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