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Box office preview: 'The Purge' ready to scare 'Fast & Furious' out of top spot

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We’re just one week away from the arrival of the likely box-office behemoth Man of Steel, and studios aren’t releasing any real tentpoles this weekend for fear that they’ll be cannibalized by Superman in their sophomore frames. Two newcomers, horror film The Purge and Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy The Internship, are hitting theaters, and while the former looks like it may score a weekend win, the latter seems headed for Burt Wonderstone territory.

The real question for The Purge is whether it can take out Fast & Furious 6, which hasn’t given up the pole position since its May 24 release. For Universal, distributor of both films, that’s a very good problem to have, and the studio may finish in first and second place this weekend — provided Now You See Me doesn’t (once again!) achieve a surprise second-place finish.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up: READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'After Earth' crashes, marks Will Smith's worst summer opening in 20 years

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Ever since Independence Day‘s $50.2 million debut on July 4th weekend in 1996, Will Smith has been the undisputed king of the summer box office. He’s led films like Men In Black; Bad Boys II; I, Robot; and Hancock to massive grosses — both domestically and around the world.

But his latest effort, After Earth, landed with a major thud on opening weekend, grossing just $27 million (distributor Sony told outlets it was expecting $35 million before the weekend) and opening in third place with a tepid “B” CinemaScore. The $130 million M. Night Shyamalan-directed sci-fi film, based on an original story idea by Will Smith himself, also starred the A-lister’s son, Jaden. The father/son duo previously found success with 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, which earned $163.6 million, but this time around, the casting gimmick wasn’t enough to get audiences into the door.

After Earth‘s opening weekend was Smith’s lowest summer debut since his first wide release, Made In America, which bowed with $11.8 million in 1993. Discouragingly, After Earth opened with even less than Smith’s oft-ridiculed Wild Wild West, which wrangled $27.8 million in its opening weekend in 1999.

So what went wrong? Well, M. Night Shyamalan’s name certainly repelled many potential viewers. The director has lost credibility with audiences after films like Lady In The Water, The Happening, and The Last Airbender, and Sony wisely kept his name out of all marketing materials. Still, film buffs (and anyone that read the scathing reviews) weren’t fooled. The blame can’t lie solely with the director, though, especially at a time when people seem to feel little affection for the Smith family. Between accusations of Hollywood nepotism, backlash against eyebrow-raising interviews, and lingering suspicions about their involvement with Scientology, Will, Jaden, and the rest of the gang seem to be in a bit of a public opinion rut.

Whatever the reason for After Earth‘s domestic under-performance, Sony is hoping that international grosses can make up lost ground. And that certainly could happen since Will Smith’s film’s often gross more overseas than they do in America. Last year, Men In Black 3 took in $179 million domestically and $445 million internationally, and time will tell whether After Earth enjoys a similar fate.

But there were other movies at the box office this weekend, too. Let’s talk about those! READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'After Earth' trumped by 'Now You See Me' as 'Fast & Furious' wins Friday (again)

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Will and Jaden Smith may want to pick up some new Cartier before they take a look at this week’s box office numbers. It might help to ease the pain.

The father/son duo’s new M. Night Shyamalan-directed adventure After Earth only earned $9.8 million on its opening Friday (technically, that number includes Thursday night shows as well), which puts it on pace for a weekend of just $27 million — a tough result considering the poorly reviewed Sony effort cost $130 million and carried Will Smith-sized expectations.

Moreover, After Earth was overshadowed by Summit’s magician thriller Now You See Me, which worked up some box office magic on Friday, pulling an impressive $10.1 million out of its hat. Now You See Me will also end the weekend with about $27 million, which sounds a whole lot healthier given its $80 million budget.

Of course, neither of the newcomers were able to topple Fast & Furious 6 from the top of the chart. The explosive hit scored $10.5 million on its second Friday and should finish the weekend in first place with about $35 million and $170 million total.

Rounding out the Top 5 was The Hangover Part III, which dropped 64 percent from its first Friday to $5.2 million, and Star Trek Into Darkness, which beamed up another $4.4 million. Both films should finish the weekend with over $15 million — a figure that Epic, which came in sixth place with $4.1 million, will likely reach as well.

1. Fast & Furious 6 – $10.5 million
2. Now You See Me – $10.1 million
3. After Earth – $9.8 million
4. The Hangover Part III – $5.2 million
5. Star Trek Into Darkness – $4.4 million

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report, and follow me on Twitter for more up-to-the-minute box office updates.

Read more:
Analysis: People love ‘Fast & Furious 6′, but not as much as they loved ‘Fast Five’
Box office preview: ‘After Earth’ ready to race ‘Fast & Furious’ for the top spot

Box office preview: 'After Earth' ready to race 'Fast & Furious 6' for the top spot

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Hey box office nerds, I’m back! What have I missed? Oh, just the highest grossing Memorial Day weekend in history? Well, it’s not like I was irrationally excited about the Fast & Furious 6 vs. The Hangover Part III showdown or anything…

But the box office waits for no one. It’s a new weekend with new releases — namely, the Will/Jaden Smith adventure After Earth and the magician thriller Now You See Me — and the former has a shot at taking out Fast & Furious 6 as the number one movie in America. (Meanwhile, The Hangover Part III seems likely to plummet out of the Top 5 altogether.)

Here’s how the frame may play out: READ FULL STORY

'After Earth' to be released one week earlier

After Earth will now be released May 31, one week early than had been previously planned, EW has confirmed. The Wrap originally reported the news.

”We love the date!” Sony said in a statement, adding, ”It is a wide open slot on the calendar that allows the film to get a little more summer play time.”  The studio also mentioned that footage shown at Cinemacon Wednesday was met with a fantastic reaction from the audience. The movie now opens a week after Fast & Furious 6 and two weeks before Man of Steel.

Read more:
‘After Earth’ trailer: Will Smith and Jaden Smith, together again for the first time for the last time
Will Smith on turning down ‘Django Unchained': ‘I needed to be the lead’
Roland Emmerich: Will Smith is ‘too big’ for ‘Independence Day’ sequels

Will Smith on turning down 'Django Unchained': 'I needed to be the lead'

When Quentin Tarantino’s western revenge-fantasy Django Unchained was first announced, casting rumors pegged Will Smith as the titular slave-turned-vigilante. But Smith, who teams with his son Jaden in this summer’s sci-fi epic After Earth, tells EW that he turned down the part because his character would’ve been second fiddle to the bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) who teaches Django his trade . “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” says the Men in Black star, whose departure opened the door for Jamie Foxx to play the role.

Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'” (Ironically, Waltz was considered a supporting actor during his Oscar-winning award season, while Jamie Foxx was promoted as the movie’s lead.)

But no hard feelings: Smith was a big fan of the final product. “I thought it was brilliant,” he says. “Just not for me.”

Read more:
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Playboy’ interview reveals who almost starred in ‘Django Unchained’ — EXCLUSIVE
‘After Earth’ trailer – Inside Movies – Entertainment Weekly
Will Smith film ‘After Earth’ gets viral teaser — WATCH | Inside Movies …
‘Django Unchained': Jamie Foxx on portraying slavery | Inside …

'After Earth' trailer: Will Smith and Jaden Smith together again, for the first time, for the last time

Following a successful collaboration in The Pursuit of Happyness and also a lifetime of being related to each other, Will Smith and Jaden Smith are reteaming in After Earth, a film about a father and son in the far-future who land on a the most terrifying planet of all: [planet’s name redacted to avoid ironic spoiler]. The first trailer for After Earth looks intriguing. It also looks intriguingly similar to Oblivion. Watch the trailer, which unfortunately doesn’t mention the very important fact that Will Smith is playing a character named General Cypher Raige: READ FULL STORY

'After Earth' viral teaser sets up the world of Will and Jaden Smith's sci-fi adventure -- VIDEO

Hollywood’s new favorite way to market a high concept studio sci-fi film is the quasi-viral soft sell. Sometimes they’re fake advertisements for fictional companies (like for RoboCop and Elysium); other times, they come in the form of an endorsement by a third-party brand to give the viral clip more legitimacy (like the Prometheus TED talk). But the underlying goal is the same: Edutain audiences about the world of the film without ever expressly stating This Is An Ad For a Potential Blockbuster.

The latest iteration is the first teaser for the M. Night Shyamalan-helmed Will and Jaden Smith sci-fi adventure After Earth, out June 2013, about a father and son who crash land on Earth 1,000 years after humanity evacuated the increasingly inhospitable planet. Instead of any shots of its two stars, however, the video traces how the crash landing of an extra-terrestrial space craft helped boost human technology, and ultimately led to the inevitable disintegration of the planet. It also introduces the Raige family, the pioneers of this technology and the descendants of Will and Jaden Smith’s respective characters. Interestingly, the entire timeline is presented as part of, well, a Facebook timeline — though the actual Facebook page for the film has barely developed.

Check it out below:  READ FULL STORY

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