All this to say that no one holds this film in high regard, or so it seems. It was the last straw in M. Night Shyamalan’s box office career before he managed to bounce back with the low-budget thriller “The Visit” in 2015. For Sony, it was a disaster, grossing just $251 million worldwide against a massive budget. of $130 million. . There was no saving grace for the film at the time, and even allowing for DVD sales, cable rights, and other ancillary sources of income, the studio undoubtedly never recouped its investment.
The main thing is that this movie is not a success by anyone’s rational definition. The director, the stars, the studio, the critics and the public at the time all rejected it. So it’s downright fascinating that it managed to work its way up the Netflix charts with little to no promotion. It’s not like Netflix or Sony is bragging that “After Earth” is now streaming. Viewers simply saw the tile when they scrolled through your app and, en masse, opted to view it over thousands of other possible titles. That is impressive, strange and quite revealing.
For one thing, it strongly indicates that Will Smith’s star power is strong among general viewers, even after the “slap in the face” at the Oscars last year. He also speaks volumes about the fact that viewers favor familiarity with major streaming services, especially movies that first played in theaters before moving to streaming. Even when those movies were flops, something boosted his profile at the time and somehow helped make a lasting impression on the public consciousness. Often the same can’t be said for direct-to-stream releases, which are more here today than situations gone tomorrow.