Will Smith is one of the most popular celebrities globally, and his fame is very well deserved. He has acted in several box office movie hits and was a major cast member of the hit show “Fresh Prince of Bel-air.”
As an actor with years of successes under his belt, Smith is used to the fact that occasionally, some movies might not do so well or be a total failure at the box office. Unfortunately, his son Jaden Smith is a whole different story.
Jaden made headlines when he starred alongside his father in the 2006 hit film “The Pursuit of Happyness” and again in the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid.” By the time he acted again with his father in the 2013 film “After Earth,” Jaden was on a roll of success. Nothing could have prepared him for the massive flop that “After Earth” did.
In Smith’s new memoir, he spoke about the film and how its failure had a huge impact on his relationship with Jaden. Here is everything he said and what we know about the clap back from the film’s failure.
‘After Earth’ Was A Box Office Failure
In an excerpt of his memoir published by PEOPLE, Smith said, “After Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure.” And he wasn’t sugar-coating it.
In its opening weekend, the movie earned about $27 million, a minuscule amount compared to its budget of $130 million. It also failed to gain much public interest and fell behind “Now You See Me” and “Fast & Furious 6.”
Film critics rated the movie poorly, and it received just 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the lowest in Smith’s career. However, most of the public’s backlash fell not on Smith’s shoulders but on his son, who acted as Kitai Raige, the film’s main character.
One popular opinion was that the film was simply a poor replica of the real-life situation of the father and son pair, that it simply illustrated Jaden trying to step out of the shadow of his father.
The premise of the film was used to illustrate. It read, “Kitai Raige is overshadowed by the success of his father Cypher. After crash-landing on a futuristic planet Earth, and his father is left injured, Kitai has to set out on a journey across the foreign land to save them both and prove himself to his father.”
The Film’s Failure Devastated Jaden
Another part of the excerpt from Smith’s memoir about the movie’s failure read, “And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit. Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.”
One post by USA Today about the film noted, “While Jaden was adorable at age 8 in The Pursuit of Happyness and was capable in the remake of The Karate Kid, the now-14-year-old doesn’t have the skills to pull off this starring role.” Similar comments and posts went viral—all with negative comments about Jaden’s performance.
For a young actor like Jaden, it would have been difficult to go from a loved child actor to the center of all that negative publicity and backlash, and he didn’t take it well.
Jaden Asked About Legal Emancipation
Smith disclosed that Jaden was so hurt by the film’s failure that he turned his disappointment on his father and requested legal emancipation. He requested full autonomy over his contract negotiations and agreements for all his future film projects.
The “Hancock” star said, “We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership. At 15 years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered.
In the end, father and son settled their differences, and Jaden decided not to proceed with emancipation. Despite the decision, Smith shared that it hurt him deeply because he felt like he had hurt his son.
Jaden Has Since Ventured Into Several Projects
Years after the movie, Jaden tried his hand at music and first released a mixtape followed by three studio albums. He rapped with Justin Bieber back in 2010, and the song titled “Never Say Never” was a huge hit. His albums did well with some songs like “Icon,” “Cabin Fever,” and “I’m Ready” that became big hits.
In 2017, he gave acting another chance and starred in the Netflix musical drama “The Get Down.” He also appeared as a voice actor in the anime series “Neo Yokio” and starred in Crystal Moselle’s “Skate kitchen.” In 2020, he featured in the film “Life in a Year” with Cara Delevigne.
When asked by USA Today about why he took a break from his career, Jaden said, “The kind of roles I was being offered weren’t exactly what I was looking for, nothing felt really necessary that I needed to be in until this came along.”
With that, there is hope for his fans that he will star in many more successful film projects in the future.
Call to action: This is a reminder to stop cyberbullying against young and aspiring stars in the entertainment industry.