In an age in which the "movie star" in the traditional sense of the word is falling more and more towards the wayside in terms of being able to draw audiences solely on their name alone, Will Smith is a notable exception. Others that join him on the list of bankable movie stars are Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp (though The Lone Ranger was a recent surprising flop), and Robert Downey Jr.. Now, moviegoers seem more attracted to sequels and brands than to the people who are headlining them. For example, recent Hollywood action movie blockbusters that achieved worldwide success were Iron Man 3 and World War Z, both of which were action movies that were sold mostly on the story concept and brand name.
As one of the three main science fiction movies that debuted between the months of April and May, After Earth also performed the poorest in comparison to Oblivion and Star Trek Into Darkness. Even before the film was released, it had a few things working against it in the public's eye. For one, it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who has experienced a string of flops in recent years and has been lambasted by both critics and moviegoers for the diminishing returns in the quality of his films. Second, After Earth showcased more of Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith, than it did him in the trailers. Third, there were accusations that this film was Will Smith's attempt at promoting Scientology, of which he has expressed support for in the past.
In the end, it failed to join the list of Will Smith films that were considered to be successful science fiction movies, such as I Am Legend and the Men in Black trilogy. It performed even poorer than Smith's last bonafide flop, Wild Wild West. However, once you take away its box office performance, for which it has earned just $60,047,407 in North America, the film does have some positive qualities, as both a science fiction and action movie. Its special effects are also top-notch, and Jaden Smith showcases his potential as a leading man.