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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by After Klady & Son

First Sentence: Who knew that Hancock would be the turning point of Will Smith’s remarkable box office run?

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72 Responses to “Friday Estimates by After Klady & Son”

  1. Pete B. says:

    Finally caught Star Trek Into Darkness, and my wife and I were the only ones in the theater.

    I had no idea that JJ and Company were such big Limp Bizkit fans as they totally swiped Wes Borland’s make-up for the primitives in the opening scene.

  2. The Pope says:

    8 pictures covering six years; Men in Black II in 2002 until Hancock in 2008 all grossing in over $100m. Is that the longest streak of any star? But then came Seven Pounds and…

    He was fun a long time ago but more and more he is resembling Tom Cruise; the formula for his success has boxed him in. He should have diversified.

    That’s why I always regard Tom Hanks to be the best around. Hanks’ streak runs from 1994 (Forrest Gump) through to 2002 (Catch Me If You Can), breaking only once with a movie he directed but did not headline.

    Just compare the variety of genres those films were and you see what accounts for his longevity.

  3. Antho42 says:

    The Pope, I disagree. Unlike Smith, Cruise took chances. During the millieniel period, he starred in Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, and Vanilla Sky.

    In contrast, Will Smith is the Mcdonald’s of Hollywood stars. Successful, but otherwise devoid of any great or even unique

  4. movieman says:

    Jaden is going to turn out to be the male version of Tatum O’Neal.
    Wonderfully natural and genuine-seeming as a kid (see “Happyness” and his terrific “Karate Kid” re-boot). But once the terrible ‘teens hit, they became incredibly, painfully self-conscious performers, essentially destroying their nascent careers in the process and never making the succession to adult roles.
    I know it’s premature to entirely write off Jaden’s acting career, but I’m confident sure his parents will find add’l outlets for his creativity in “The Industry.” Maybe he can follow Big Daddy Will’s lead and record a hip-hop album next.
    Wait: hasn’t he already done that?
    Or was that his little sister?
    As far as Will goes, he’s never given a performance as flagrantly awful as the one he gives in “After Earth.”
    Wouldn’t a “KK” sequel have been the smarter career move rather than a leaden, still-born sci-fi opus that owes more to “Battlefield Earth” than “Star Wars”?

  5. anghus says:

    The biggest mistake Smith ever made was not pursuing Django. He would have gotten his groove back.

  6. YancySkancy says:

    I dunno, seems silly to write Will Smith off when he hasn’t even worked all that much since 2008. He took about three years off, and all he’s done since is a third MIB and this thing.

  7. Spacesheik says:

    Will Smith started making crappy movies such as ‘I Robot,’ ‘Seven Pounds’ & ‘I Am Legend’ – the latter made a nice bundle but was a generic Hollywood action thriller.

    Once in a while he’d do crowd pleasing turn such as ‘Hitch’ & The Pursuit Of Happyness’ – unfortunately that’s where the father and son shtick began.

    Is he still King Of July 4th? “Hell nah”, but he could have a solid career like Cruise if he picked decent projects devoid of ego.

    Didnt he turn down ‘Django’ because he thought his character should’ve *Spoiler Alert* shoot Di Caprio instead of Waltz?

    He needs to leave the ego at the cinematic door.

  8. Tuck Pendelton says:

    In terms of the “I hear why ____ turned down that part because ____.” I always, take that with a grain of salt this town is built on gossip and you hear a lot of bullshit. I would have loved to seen Smith in that part, and I actually think he’s great in Ali. I did see MiBIII recently and man that was a wasted opportunity.

    I do think the movie was damaged by Oblivion, how many post-apocolyptic earth movies starring major movie stars do we need in two months?

  9. SamLowry says:

    Funny how folks keep comparing Smith and Cruise when there’s at least two stories on the MCN front page saying AE was thoroughly influenced by Scientology, up to and including Smith’s emotionless acting.

  10. Etguild2 says:

    I’m hopeful that “The American Can” can help Willie find his swagger again. Riskiest project he’s taken on since “Ali.”

    The worst part of the “After Earth” gross is that all my local theaters are showing it around 12-15 times a day, while NYSM is only screening 6-8 times a day. Not sure if this is a local phenomenon, but if not, yikes.

  11. anghus says:

    i think the movie was damaged by three things:

    1. the stink of no story

    If you cant sell a movie in the trailer, you can’t expect an audience to show up. AE may have one of the most unappealing trailers cut in years. Emotionless, selling on scope. I don’t think the close proximity to Oblivion helped, but the Oblivion trailer sold scope AND story. There was a great mystery laid into the marketing. AE didn’t have that at all.

    2. The media piles on M Night

    There isn’t a filmmaker working today that gets writers more worked up than M Night. They delight in his failure. The fact that he keeps delivering substandard product just makes it too easy. It’s the perfect relationship. The media is looking for a pinata. M Night just keeps stuffing his films with candy.

    3. Will Smith comes across kind of pushy

    I think the problem here was putting Jaden and Will Smith in a movie together. Will Smith’s presence in the movie seems like a giant flashing red light telling you no one thought Jaden Smith could carry a movie without Will Smith there to draw an audience. And Will Smith has been doing this relentless press push for the film including appearances with his son where he gets up and sings the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song and carts out Carlton to do the dance. And his son joins him on stage rapping along with him. I realize the intention, but the whole thing comes across like a guy bankrolling past glories because the films arent all that good anymore, and it seems really, really forced. I think Smith has hit the saturation point.

    All the charisma in the world can’t save you from bad movies. And lets be honest, audiences didn’t love I, Robot, I Am Legend, or Hancock. They went to those films because they like Will Smith. After awhile, Smith became the guy who you really liked who starred in forgettable big budget movies. Eventually, atrophy sets in.

  12. jesse says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t think After Earth was too bad? (Or maybe the only one here who actually saw it and didn’t just dismiss it based on Smith/Shyamalan/the trailer?)

    Not great by any means, but a fairly well-shot and engaging sci-fi survival story. Very simple. No twists. Nothing truly spectacular, but nicely small-scale (even on its big canvas). Easily Shyamlan’s best since the first half of The Village.

    I think their biggest mistake was putting this out in the summer just because of Will Smith’s face. I mean, I guess it makes sense; most of Smith’s movies have been summer releases (save a few big holiday ones), and you don’t want to be third in the post-Earth sci-fi sweepstakes after Oblivion AND Elysium… but I feel like in the spring or fall, this would’ve been at least an Oblivion-size medium-hit, maybe bigger because Smith is still a bigger draw than Cruise. In the summer, it follows four straight weekends of HUGE movies. Between Iron Man 3, Gatsby, Trek, and Furious 6, the LOW gross will be the $140 million or so Gatsby makes. (Plus some lower but still substantial grosses for Epic and Hangover.) Supposedly they went up to 5/31 to keep from getting steamrolled in the second weekend by Superman… but doesn’t everything get relatively steamrolled in the second weekend anyway? And now June 7th is weirdly spare — only The Internship and The Purge coming out. The After Earth move seems like it helps Superman more than After Earth!

    In general, these two weekends had a bunch of shuffles that didn’t seem to make much sense. Now You See Me, The Purge, and After Earth all moved from one to the other at some point, with only Internship staying put. It’s nice that there isn’t that weird weekend-after-Memorial-Day-should-be-avoided-if-it’s-still-May superstition that some studios still appear to abide, but I feel like they second-and-third-guessed each other out of maximized grosses (same with those surprise-one-day-early move-ups of Hangover and Star Trek; just made their opening weekends look softer rather than adding money. That’s my guess, anyway).

    5/31 would’ve been a perfect time for Now You See Me and either Internship or Purge. And then put After Earth and the remainder on 6/7. I feel like After Earth would’ve opened a solid $5 million+ higher — and it’s going to drop 50% second weekend no matter what, so who cares about getting in Man of Steel’s way?

  13. LexG says:

    I liked After Earth just fine. And at my showing, it’s not like there were boos and Icees being fired at the screen. The critical response seems to exist in some snarky vacuum of assholes who’ve decided this was the time for the Smiths to PAY FOR THEIR SINS or whatever.

    It’s really no worse than any other summer adventure movie. It’s probably shot, composed, and more efficiently written than most.

  14. Etguild2 says:

    I really love this new insinuation, made many times on this blog in the last week, that “if you agree with the majority, and thought the movie was bad, you never saw it and are a mindless sheep.” If you don’t agree with me, you didn’t see it!

    For the record, I didn’t think the movie was terrible, just a bit boring and talky considering what it was selling . But this hipster affectation of defending the work of formerly cool artists by accusing their critics of lying and bandwagoning, which has extended to music, needs to stop. This is not a good movie, it’s far worse than any major release this summer so far aside from HANGOVER 3.

    Also, I’m tired of the argument that competition hurts a film in summer. Summer 2011 commenced with a film making at least $115 million every weekend, for 15 weekends straight. 12 of those banked at least 140 million. Competition is an excuse for studios that peddle sub-standard product.

  15. Big G says:

    QT should thank his lucky stars Smith turned down Django. His very presense would have been a reminder of Wild Wild West. You could just picture Kevin Kline as Dr. King and Kenneth Branagh as Calvin Candie.

  16. Paul Doro says:

    anghus I think #1 applies more to AE than #2. Is your average moviegoer really paying attention to critics and how they write about M. Night? Anecdotal of course but most if not all of my family members have seen many of his movies but don’t know his name. I could say “Hey AE is the new M. Night Shyamalan movie” and I’d get blank stares. And his name wasn’t even used while promoting it. I really don’t think reviews had much if anything to do with opening weekend box office. The trailer wasn’t very good and it looked too much like Oblivion.

  17. Bulldog68 says:

    I think competition still hurts a weaker film Etguild. There are still numbers of people who decide what movie they are going to see when they reach the multiplex. You see them looking up at the screener board and going through the options, and if through media channels they hear a movie is not very good, they may just go for the most popular.

    You did not have to be a devout reader of critical reviews to know that the consensus was that After Earth was not very good, and when in a rare case where the other popular movies have gotten good to great reviews like Iron Man, Star Trek and F&F6, then competing against good films will hurt you with a mediocre product.

    Counter to that, some of these same people may have responded to the trailer for Now You See Me. Did you guys see or hear it? The trailer actually says that amidst all the summer sequels, come see something that is truly an original. That has an appeal to many.

    I have seen After Earth, and it’s not very good, but it’s not atrociously bad either. I agree that the release date was a mistake. Also, having Will Smith not be Will Smith was also a mistake. This movie might have been better served with him not in it and someone else playing the father. Then they might have won the expectations game. Ironically the two actors that come to mind are already in two other summer blockbusters but Don Cheadle or Idris Alba may have brought a dimension to the father role that Will did not or could not do. Then this $25m+ opening may not have been such a disappointment.

  18. movieman says:

    The worst part of the “After Earth” gross is that all my local theaters are showing it around 12-15 times a day, while NYSM is only screening 6-8 times a day. Not sure if this is a local phenomenon, but if not, yikes.

    Nope, not a “local phenomenon,” Et. It’s the same around here.
    Even more confounding is there’s still a performance of “Hangover 3” every 20 minutes, despite its underwhelming opening weekend. And–at least at the ‘plex where I saw “NYSM” this afternoon–“Hang 3” is still commanding the largest auditoriums.
    Guess WB is a strict task-master, lol.

    Had a good time at “NYSM” btw.
    It’s infinitely less pretentious than, say, “The Prestige,” and
    considerably more entertaining as well.
    Sure, I might have liked it better if it’d been 20 minutes shorter (and
    directed w/ a tad more visual panache and style).
    But the cast is killer, the script is just clever enough and it’s a
    very satisfying “Saturday Matinee (or Night)” kind of popcorn movie.
    The biggest mystery is why Summit kept it under wraps until the last
    minute, as though there was something to hide.
    But I think WOM could still turn it into a nice-sized little sleeper hit a la
    And I wouldn’t be surprised if, like “Red,” there’s a sequel down the
    road. (Although I’d really, really hate to see that happen for myriad

  19. berg says:

    seem s like a lot of articles have an agenda driven by their hatred of Smith or MNS … I mean the movie has a volcano and the cover of Dianetics has a volcano so it must be about scinetology, whatever …. After Earth reminded me more of Jack London with a heaping dose of Robert Heinlein ….

  20. anghus says:

    “anghus I think #1 applies more to AE than #2. Is your average moviegoer really paying attention to critics and how they write about M. Night?”

    Well, i’m talking about a wide array of potential ticket buyers. #1 and #2 aren’t hitting the same demos. If you don’t think the M Night stench hasn’t been widely broadcast online, you haven’t been paying attention. Hell, the Scientology propaganda angle made Drudge. M Night and the Scientology angle pre-loaded the word ‘bomb’ into the media’s chamber. It took little effort to pull the trigger.

    None of the three things i mentioned would impact the same demo. The trailer being boring hits the average ticket buyer who doesnt dig any deeper than the marketing. Number two is more for the online news junkies who follow the news cycle, which AE has been a part of all week. Number three ties into what Lex was talking about. For some reason this phenomenon where people wait gleefully for the super successful to fail.

    I’ve heard people bagging on Smith since he started pimping his kids into the entertainment industry. And now he’s delivered a sub par movie featuring one of his kids and directed by a guy who has been absolutely savaged in the media for the last eight years. After Earth is like the haters perfect storm. It’s like a cinematic lightning rod by design. Take one of the world’s biggest stars, strip him of his personality and have him act like a robot. Cast his noticably less charismatic child in the lead role. Get the guy who did The Happening to direct. Tie it into everybody’s favorite wack-a-doo culty religion.

  21. Matthew C. says:

    LexG wins the thread: “The critical response seems to exist in some snarky vacuum of assholes who’ve decided this was the time for the Smiths to PAY FOR THEIR SINS or whatever.”

    good lord, yes. There seems to be a lot people taking retribution out for a spin.

  22. Paul Doro says:

    Yes I am fully aware of the stench being widely broadcast online. And I get that you are covering a wide array of ticket buyers. But the online news junkies who closely follow movie criticism seems like a much, much smaller audience than your average moviegoer who likes summer action movies.

    Also, are the reviews really unfair, and going out of there way to be mean to M. Night? Almost every review I’ve read admits that it’s pretty good visually but overall is a mediocre film. Nothing I’ve read seems to go out of its way to lambast M. Night. And I’m not talking about message boards or Twitter here, just to be clear.

  23. Christian says:

    Nothing to say about “Yeh Jawaani…” coming in at number #9? I expect no discussion at Deadline, but isn’t it worth some comment here? I know Len Klady makes a habit in his “Weekend Report” of pointing out the performance of Bollywood films. when was the last time one broke into the top 10 — during the summer? Seems like a significant story, even if the per screen isn’t earth-shattering.

  24. anghus says:

    Doro, i think there’s a difference between online film fans who frequent places like this and the online masses who frequent the Drudges, Huffingtons, Reddits, etc.

    The thing is, a lot of these micro conversations went macro. Reddit had the whole Scientology Propaganda piece on the main page the entire week leading up to the release. Drudge ran with it. Huffpo ran stories. These are common sites. Its not like just something you found on slashfilm or hitfix or collider. This was all over the high traffic parts of the web. And for your core youthful audience for a film like AE, they all saw the negative stuff. It wasn’t just the far corners of the film nerd blogs.

    And to that effect, i think Lex is wrong. It wasn’t just the snarky film sites or critics stirring up shit on this one. It was everybody. The pinata line was long, and densely populated.

    I don’t know if i’d call it a broad conspiracy to sink the thing, but you could not have orchestrated a better perfect storm of negative publicity leading up to the release. Once someone made the connection to scientology, the knives were drawn and countless news outlets ran with it. It’s one thing when critics go knives out. But when the legitimate ‘news’ sites start linking the scientology propaganda piece, the movie was doomed.

    But back to basics: Critics can’t kill a movie. First weekend is marketing. The marketing was not great, hence the poor opening. The Scientology comparisons and the critical bloodbath is merely salting the Earth.

    It reminds me of John Carter when people were writing the eulogy in the weeks leading up to release.

  25. The Pope says:

    @ Antho42,

    Replying to you late. Yes, I admit Cruise did take a few chances although I wouldn’t include Vanilla Sky as a particularly good one. Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut. Also in there were Collateral and Minority Report. And Valkyrie wasn’t so bad… But overall, he has become trapped by his formula. The Mission: Impossible series, Oblivion, Jack Reacher, Knight and Day. Ever decreasing circles.

    With Smith suffering an almighty beating on After Earth, it will be interesting to see how Brad Pitt is treated for World War Z. I think he will be fine, certainly the media don’t seem to be sharpening their knives. He’s generally well liked.

  26. Ray Pride says:

    Plus, Brad Pitt’s production company has been more eclectic and ambitious in its projects than Smith’s. Spreading the wealth and the health (of the larger industry).

  27. cadavra says:

    I’ve posted before about how Smith seems to favor non-entity directors he can control. I’m convinced the real reason he turned down DJANGO is that he wanted to call the shots, and QT, whatever you think of him, was not about to let that happen. Until Smith works with a world-class filmmaker again, he will continue to lose the good will he’d built up over the years. Similarly, Jaden needs to work independently of Pop if he’s serious about an acting career (and something tells me he’s not).

  28. anghus says:

    There’s already been some attempts at poisoning the well on World War Z. You’ll notice a few people already floating the idea that it is the most expensive film ever made. floating that $400 million dollar number out there.

    If the news cycle if predictable, what will happen is they’ll walk over the corpse of After Earth to shower Man of Steel with praise. Then after all that goodwill, they’ll need something to bash. And that’s right about when World War Z shows up.

    But i agree that Pitt is so well liked that i think he’ll get away with an unprofitable misstep, where Smith seems to be taking the brunt of After Earth’s failings.

  29. Monco says:

    Pitt is fine. He actually makes adult dramas like Moneyball and Killing Them Softly in between the blockbusters which you have to do to get the small ones made. Smith stars in nothing except big blockbuster dog shit. He seems to not care about the quality of the movie just its marketability and its ability to make money. Now he just wants to make his son a star. He has admitted that he turned down Django because he felt the character was not the main star. Compare that to Pitt who has a supporting role in the McCarthy written/ Ridley Scott directed The Counselor. As you age you have to start to be willing to take supporting roles. You can’t headline everything forever. This is Cruise’s big problem and now it is Smith’s as well. What’s different is the level of arrogance. Cruise is not trying to force his son on an unwanting public.

  30. Triple Option says:

    Wait, I’m confused. You guys are bashing Will Smith for BOTH going against type AND not taking any chances for doing any original turns?? Wow, how dare he!

    In happier news, I saw Now You See Me. I too really enjoyed the cast. It was more in line with what I expected from Burt Wonderstone. Actual magic or sleight and deception on a grand scale. I actually thought it could win the w/e. Who knows, maybe it will. I think I’m more surprised by Furious 6 than I am After Earth. Not that I was expecting so much backlash against the Smiths as Now You See Me having a much more enticing trailer.

    Kings of Summer was a hoot! I’m weary, at the very least, Sundance hyped films but this one was done right. There was sort of an economies of scale with the problems or conflicts of the teens being bigger in their own eyes than many older adults would otherwise see them to be. Without going close to spoiler mode, it was nice seeing teens be teens and not walking and talking like 40 year old overly well adjusted adults w/smoother skin.

    I wasn’t really dying to see anything heading into the summer but I’ve seen 4 or 5, wait 6, since the beginning of May that have all been pretty decent. (After Earth not one of them). I don’t mind spending money as long as this holds up.

  31. anghus says:

    Im not really faulting Smith for anything. I do think Django would have brought him a new level of street cred and helped reinvigorate his clout.

  32. Paul Doro says:

    I didn’t really like Kings of Summer. Awkward mix of realism with the teens and totally buffoonery with the adults. The one kid’s parents are excruciating and felt straight out of an awful sitcom. Nothing they said or did rang true. A lot of forced, cheap laughs with them and the strange kid. Wasn’t impressed.

    I agree there is a difference anghus. And I never really go to Drudge or Reddit or Huffpo so I have no idea what’s being talked about there or the influence those sites have on moviegoers.

  33. leahnz says:

    I’m drinkin’, bitch! (why do people never seem to include ‘Hancock’ when listing smith’s ‘against type’ oeuvre, or even just his movies in general, it’s a pretty weird flick)
    and fwiw newsflash: people aren’t psychic (I don’t think so anyways) and they don’t know beforehand the movie they’re going to do is gonna turn out or be deemed a big turd, the overwhelming ‘with hindsight’ opinion on these blogs when judging people for why they do the movies they do is always kind of hilarious – and redford, mann, sonnenfeld, proyas, berg, etc, it’s not like the directors Smith has worked with are regarded as big hopeless hacks; Shayamalan does seem like a risk at the moment. Maybe the tall poppy slashing machine is doing its thing on Smith (I haven’t seen ‘after earth’ yet so i can’t really form a subjective opinion, but for a guy who seems like a pretty nice, decent fellow he sure does take a lot of shit, I think because of his religion – as if other religions aren’t just as ridiculous )

  34. film fanatic says:

    I wonder if part of the problem wasn’t just that Smith was playing an atypical role, but that Smith doesn’t even look like Smith in any of the materials. Maybe it’s extreme airbrushing in the posters or some of the same CG magic used on Matt Damon in “Behind The Candelabra” in the trailers, but it looks like he’s had work done and he’s almost unrecognizable. Or maybe I’m just trippin’?

  35. leahnz says:

    as an aside, how can anyone look at Brad Pitt with a straight face again after seeing that ultra-embarassing beyond cringe-worthy “inevitable” Chanel no5 ad he did, holy shit, what a tool – but one of the funniest things I’ve seen was a spoof where a guy goes at the end, “that means you can’t eat it, right?”, so I guess at least it spawned that.

  36. SamLowry says:

    Oh, so everyone’s going to be all lovey-dovey over Superman, despite the fact that, for one, the dude in this new movie doesn’t even look like Superman?

    I saw a Supes toy display, including a 3′ tall dude, and couldn’t stop thinking “Why does he look like he’s just been on fire? What’s with the hair? Where’s his frickin’ shorts?”

    I can’t stop thinking about the rules Peters laid down on Kevin Smith. Is there going to be a spider in this one?

    EDIT: I’d say that screenwriter Alex Ford, brought in after the Burton debacle ended, has the best quote about summer movies, period:

    “I can tell you they [Warner execs] don’t know much about comics. Their audience isn’t you and me who pay $7.00. It’s for the parents who spend $60 on toys and lunchboxes. It is a business, and what’s more important, the $150 million at the box office or the $600 million in merchandising?”

    (Oh, and on the other side of the aisle from the big Superman display was a big MU display, including a shelf of Monster-themed Mac and Cheese.)

  37. LexG says:

    Why does Scientology freak people out so much, anyway? Cruise always says people ask him about it and really dig it. Always sounds kinda cool to me– embracing one’s one power AS AN INDIVIDUAL and not some kind of collective BS like other religions. Seems awesome.

    Cruise is my number-one idol for almost 30 years, and he’s one of the most powerful and successful people EVER. If it’s good enough for GOD CRUISE, must be something to it. No dumber than ANY other idiotic religion.

  38. SamLowry says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that attacking Scientology for the whole Xenu business because it’s unbelievably weird implies that every other religion isn’t unbelievably weird.

  39. jesse says:

    I do think you can see some bending over backwards to find reasons After Earth is just the WORST or whatever, rather than just (at worst) a middling sci-fi adventure story. This stuff about “oh why is Will Smith so reined in and subdued and not CHARMING and wisecracking” is kind of hilarious considering how much shit Smith gets for leaning into his persona so often.

    I think the guy makes way too many safe choices, too — in contrast to Cruise, has gone into safety mode in an attempt to get back into the business of Being Tom Cruise, which is a little disappointing (kind of glad he’s out of that Man from UNCLE movie), but during many of his peak star years, he was pioneering the current DiCaprio/Damon/Clooney/Pitt strategy of: 80% of the time or more, work with great or interesting directors. I’ve probably said this before on here, but look at Cruise from ’93 to ’08: in fifteen years, he works with Sydney Pollack, Neil Jordan, Brian De Palma, Cameron Crowe twice, Steven Spielberg twice, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael Mann, Bryan Singer, J.J. Abrams, Robert Redford, and Edward Zwick. Not every one of those guys is amazing, but it’s pretty damn impressive.

    Smith, though, never really had that phase. He did some time with Michael Mann, and I happen to like Alex Proyas a lot, but mostly he tends to hook up with B-list or C-list filmmakers. Besides Mann, the two others he has in common with Cruise are Zwick and Redford — totally fine if THOSE are your hacks (since Redford can be interesting and Zwick, well, he’s not the worst) but if they’re more or less your average, or above your average, that’s a problem.

    Though that’s really more a “problem” for movie geeks looking at your career. I don’t think audiences are passing on After Earth because they think “you know, that Will Smith, I like him but he never stars in truly memorable films for the ages.” I think most audience members who saw I Am Legend probably liked it. A lot of audience members who saw Hancock probably kinda liked it. At worst, they forgot about it. General Audiences don’t really keep score the way we all do.

  40. anghus says:

    you know why scientology freaks people out?

    because it’s new.

    because religion is supposed to be old and ancient. people get off on knowing their faith goes back thousands of years. even if the new stuff is the same as the old stuff, people incorrectly believe that their faith is more valid because people have been buying into their stupid belief system for several millenia.

    It’s why people make fun of mormons and scientologists. It boils down to:

    “My crazy shit has been around a lot longer than their crazy shit.”

  41. palmtree says:

    But can we agree all religion is pretty weird? They all start off like ponzi schemes or pyramids that help the people on top. It’s only after a long time that people forget about that origin and focus on the more socially acceptable aspects ike charity and compassion.

  42. anghus says:

    “But can we agree all religion is pretty weird?”

    religion is poison.

  43. chris says:

    Not even getting to the ridiculous stuff: Because it’s secretive. Because it’s repressive. Because it’s homophobic. Because it’s wealthy. Because it rips apart families.

  44. Brady says:

    Chris, I sort of believe in the potential of religion in a pure state. It’s man who has corrupted it. We fuck everything up at some point. Im fascinated with world travel and the base connection to all spiritual grounding. We could learn from the power of myths if we weren’t all so scared and susceptible to the arrogance and evil that stands on top of it all. At this point your probably more right though. And as Anghus says, most dosages are inevitably poisonous. Too bad.

  45. brack says:

    The weekend after Memorial Day is typically not a good weekend to release a new film, so I’m not surprised After Earth didn’t open well. Plus the movie didn’t look good. Considering Oblivion wasn’t a huge hit, I didn’t see how this one was going to do much better.

  46. anghus says:

    You know, After Earth wasn’t that bad. Hell, it was a lot less painful that something like Cloud Atlas which was a fucking labor to sit through. It’s a simple movie. Directed with competence. Good visuals. Some good sequences. The only THUD in the movie was the kid whenever he tried to “act”. There’s one scene where he’s arguing with Will at the top of a mountain. Man… nails on a fucking chalkboard. The kid has no range at all. He’s a kid. Im not faulting him for being a sub-par actor, but the movie suffered because of his presence.

    With a better actor in the lead role, it could have been above average. But honestly, it’s just average. The ‘worst film of all time’ talk is fucking insane. This is better than every Resident Evil film ever released. Better than both Ghost Riders. Better than dreck like Battleship.

    All the shit people give Hollywood these days for putting out unoriginal, formulaic junk, and they call After Earth the worst film ever made?

    It feels like a waste of energy to defend something that really is average. But man, the response to this film really does feel like a pile on. This is binary theory in action: everything is a masterpiece or a piece of shit. After Earth is neither. It’s just a movie in need a more of a capable lead actor.

    But you’re going to call this component, well constructed movie one of the worst of all time?

    People really need to reign it in.

  47. Bulldog68 says:

    Ditto what Anghus said. My seven year old watched Battleship on cable the other day and said afterward, “what stupid aliens. Why did they choose this planet if they can’t handle the sun.”

    Ditto also the Ghost Riders and Resident Evils and probably the worse movie I saw last year, Silent Hill 2. Imagine at a free screening where the audience most times leans toward being appreciative, there was active dialogue among the attendees openly mocking the movie. And absolutely no one went “shhh”.

    Just this year, among the movies I have seen, I had a better time at After Earth than Pain & Gain, Oz, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hangover 3.

    Among those that I haven’t seen, it could be no worse than Die Hard 5, Scary Movie 5, The Last Exorcism 2, (even the name betrays the movie), Bullet to the Head and Burt Wonderstone.

  48. Martin S says:

    The Scientology-or-not talk is interesting, considering in about two weeks, you guys get to see Space Christ vs Astro Satan.

    I’ll be very interested to see if Lex takes the same “what’s da big deel” approach.

    Still wondering if anyone outside of Nolan could have gotten this made by a major. Maybe it’s not so overt in the script as compared to visually fleshed out.

    Don’t know if it can reach IM3 due to international and the way Marvel parlayed China, but its domestic has a huge upside.

  49. anghus says:

    the idea of Michael Shannon as “Astro Satan” makes me happy.

  50. Paul Doro says:

    People are really calling After Earth one of the worst movies ever made?

  51. Paul Doro says:

    I’d already read 3 or 4 of those. Looks like only one suggested it could be one of the worst movies ever made, and I’m sure that’s a ridiculous statement. The reviews I’ve read say it’s mediocre, which pretty much lines up with what people here have said about it. Even the defenders are saying “it’s really not that bad” as opposed to “it’s actually a good film.”

    What’s Astro Satan?

  52. anghus says:

    So if you go to Drudge right now youll see the story lamenting the disaster of After Earth…

    …right below “Is World War Z next?”

    So predictable.

  53. Etguild2 says:

    The early “World War Z” reactions seem pretty good actually…Paramount is trying to get out in front, and the Angelina Jolie appearance last night certainly didn’t hurt.

    Also, if you’re going to do nepotism, how much cooler is it to go with casting your kid as an anonymous zombie:)

  54. Paul Doro says:

    I’m really looking forward to World War Z, and I make a habit of avoiding Drudge like the plague.

  55. anghus says:

    I only check out Drudge because i try to stay on top of whats out there on the mainstream web sites. Stuff like Reddit, Drudge, Huffpo, etc is a good way to see what you average online websurfer is seeing every day. There are levels of film fans. You have a very large group who makes decisions based on marketing and digs no deeper. You have a large group who reads sites like Drudge, CNN, FoxNews, Huffpo, etc who make more informed decisions based on popular perception. You have a small group that digs really deep into the online film sites and blogs and gets into the minutia of it all.

    There are sites i go to just to sort of get a feel for public perception. Drudge is notoriously anti-Hollywood. Hence the link relationship with Finke who seems to believe Hollywood needs toppling.

  56. foamy squirrel says:

    Re: aliens coming to earth when they can’t stand the sun, we can’t live on 70% of the surface of the earth and its our own damn planet.

  57. Paul Doro says:

    Fair points anghus, and I used to visit Drudge on occasion, but I sure don’t miss it now that I don’t.

  58. SamLowry says:

    Palmtree, that was the thesis of Robert Wright’s “The Evolution of God”–the crazy-eyed prophet who gathers followers by stating that we will put our enemies to the sword and rule the planet forever (like Jesus) is inevitably deposed by a businessman (like Paul) who would rather gather enough followers to make the enterprise profitable by tempering the message with peace and brotherhood and all that claptrap.

    Wright’s favorite word is “franchise”, and in the end all growing religions look alike in their lowest common denominator attempt to grab the hearts & minds of every customer, err, worshiper on the planet.


    “Re: aliens coming to earth when they can’t stand the sun, we can’t live on 70% of the surface of the earth and its our own damn planet.”

    How about bringing this back to the original target of ridicule and mention SIGNS.

  59. leahnz says:

    maybe the silly sunlight-averse aliens in ‘battleship’ are related to/come from the same dumb corner of the galaxy as those in ‘signs’, a species for whom water is lethal who invade a planet that’s about 70% covered with water not to mention the water rife in earth’s atmosphere. Maybe we attract dumb aliens easily distracted by colourful shiny things – they see beautiful blue earth out the window and say, “Pretty! that one.”

  60. leahnz says:

    sam did you edit/add that ‘signs’ mention in afterwards? i don’t think it was there when I started typing (or I’m going blind, which is possible)

  61. SamLowry says:

    It was an edit, but I didn’t see your comment while I was adding it in; I don’t refresh the entire page until I’m entirely done because I’m fearful I might not be able to go back in one last time to polish things up.

  62. leahnz says:

    no worries i was just wondering, clearly ‘signs’ was on our minds (ha poetry)

  63. Bulldog68 says:

    Ever wonder if screenplay writers of glaring plot holes like these two ever wish they’d done it differently? Anyone have any evidence that this has happened.

  64. SamLowry says:

    One reviewer said to visualize SIGNS just imagine humans landing on a planet nearly covered with sulfuric acid. Frequently, almost unpredictably, sulfuric acid rains from the sky, burning their skin, eroding their structures, and destroying any crops they planted, yet these astronauts still think they can colonize the planet and live on the surface.

  65. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Have you been keeping up with the various NASA planet studies? That’s pretty much EXACTLY what we will be doing if we discover interstellar propulsion methods. The closest planet found so far that we even MIGHT be able to inhabit (based on speculation about gravity based on size, and distance from the sun) is 1,200 light years away. The chances of it also having plate tectonics resulting in a magnetic core so everything doesn’t instantly get fried by cosmic radiation is massively slim – I believe we have yet to find a single other planet with a magnetic core.

    Pop scifi has lied to you. Any planet where we can at least breathe without external apparatus would be a godsend. Even if it had carbon-based life on it (even basic bacteria) to maintain an oxygenated atmosphere, there’s a 50/50 chance that EVERYTHING would be toxic to us thanks to D/L chirality. But almost certainly, there would be some factor in abundance that would render colonizing that planet very hazardous indeed.

    The stupid thing about the aliens is not why they decided to come here when they were allergic to water. It’s why they didn’t bother to apparently bring any umbrellas.

  66. leahnz says:

    Foamy did you learn nothing from ‘Aliens’ man? Weyland-Yutani just goes in with a bunch of their expensive industrial tech and colonist families (they’re not silly though, they take umbrellas) and install those nifty atmosphere processors to make the atmosphere breathable for humans — hey it takes a couple decades but then bobs-your-uncle, and new planet to stripmine or whathaveyou with lots of $/shares to fight over! hahaha

    (bulldog, I’d think that happens a lot but i can’t think of a specific instance w/evidence, sure there must be some though…)

  67. palmtree says:

    I don’t remember Jesus saying anything about putting people to the sword, but okay, interesting theory. My critique is that Jesus, not Paul, was the businessman. He opened the door to everyone and commanded his followers to convert (aka franchise).

  68. hcat says:

    ‘8 pictures covering six years; Men in Black II in 2002 until Hancock in 2008 all grossing in over $100m. Is that the longest streak of any star?’

    I think Cruise and Murphy had longer streaks, of course you would have to assume that a 1986 50 is a 2002 100.

    As for the religious stuff, I tend to think of religion like booze, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, its just that a lot of people can’t hold their liqour.

  69. The Big Perm says:

    Humans are allergic to bullets and bombs, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to conquer other corners of the world.

    Also, in Signs they weren’t trying to colonize earth, it was a snatch and grab operation. Get as many humans as possible.

    PLUS, the aliens sent out were just dummies bred for the purpose of grabbing humans, so the giant brains sitting in glass tubes that wanted to eat the humans didn’t care how many died.

  70. christian says:

    Giving Drudge hits is like giving Alex Jones hits. Encourages his madness. He’s so anti-Hollywood he loves FOX – a Hollywood movie company.

    Just realized DP could be somewhere near me in Seattle.

  71. SamLowry says:

    Many thanks to whoever reposted Christopher Orr’s review of THE HAPPENING on the MCN front page. So many hilarious lines in the piece, like “Each time the airborne toxin strikes, everyone ceases what they were doing and freezes in their tracks for a moment. It took several such episodes before I stopped anticipating that they’d commence tapping their feet in unison, as in the beginning of a big musical ensemble number.”

    But the one that sums it up the best:

    “…if millions of Americans were killed by some tree-originated pathogen that could be released again at any time, the immediate result would not be a renewed enthusiasm for peaceful coexistence, but rather a program of deforestation so aggressive it’d make the Brazilian lumber industry look like tree huggers.”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon