'After Earth' stumbles at box office

‘After Earth’ stumbled at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend, finishing third in ticket sales based on numbers released June 3 by Rentrak and Box Office Mojo.

This is the first time that a Will Smith-starring Summer film has not opened in the top spot domestically in nearly twenty years. (Even ‘Wild Wild West’ debuted at number one upon release in 1999.)

‘Fast and Furious 6’ maintained its status as box office champ for a second week, grossing $35 million to bring the Vin Diesel vehicle to over $170 million in domestic ticket sales since it debuted two weeks ago.

The surprise hit of the weekend was ‘Now You See Me’, which showed a strong $28 million in sales and finished the box office race at number two behind ‘Furious.’

Bad reviews and poor word-of-mouth are factors that contributed to ‘After Earth’ performing poorly upon release on May 31. Cinemascore rated the film a ‘B’ which is a disappointing score for such a highly publicized release.

Opening night audiences tend to be excited to see a new film, and often the Cinemascore results can reflect that energy about a films release. When a film scores a ‘B’ or lower, it can be reasonably assumed that the word of mouth will be less than glowing from audience members.

The week following a major film release debuts, the ticket sales often drop 50% or more in the second week of release. With the negative reviews and low Cinemascore for ‘After Earth’, I’m predicting a 60% drop or more for the June 7 weekend.

‘After Earth’ with a production budget of $160 million, will make it an uphill battle for Columbia Pictures and Overbrook Entertainment to find something to smile about. Star Will Smith is an international movie star so there is still hope that the film will find a more welcoming audience in overseas markets.

‘Now You See Me’ scored an ‘A-‘ with audiences during its exit polling, and with the film having a significantly smaller production budget than ‘After Earth’ stands to be successful for Lions Gate Films.

The heist film about illusionists that rob from corporations and redistribute the wealth  during their performances on stage stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Mark Ruffalo.

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