Box Office Report: 'Now You See Me' Beats Will Smith's 'After Earth' Thursday Night

9:37 AM PST 05/31/2013 by Pamela McClintock, Rebecca Ford
Summit Entertainment
"Now You See Me"

UPDATED: Summit's magician heist pic earned $1.5 million as it launched at 7 p.m. Thursday; "After Earth," opening at 9 p.m., takes in a soft $1 million and may have trouble crossing $25 million for the weekend in a major blow for the actor.

In a box office upset, Now You See Me beat Will Smith's sci-fi adventure After Earth as the two films rolled out in theaters Thursday night.

Nor are Friday matinee numbers bringing much relief for After Earth, which may struggle to open much past $25 million unless ticket sales pick up in earnest, versus the $35 million-plus the father-son adventure was expected to bring in. The film's performance is a rare blemish for Smith, considered one of the world's biggest stars.

After Earth -- starring Smith opposite his son, Jaden -- has pulled ahead of Summit's Now You See Me at the Friday box office, although that's not likely to bring much solace. On Thursday night, the Sony event pic grossed a tepid $1 million, while Now You See Me grossed $1.5 million (Now You See Me did have a two-hour jump on After Earth, opening at 7 p.m.).

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After Earth is a passion project for Smith, who came up with the idea for the story and tapped M. Night Shyamalan to direct the $130 million film for Sony. The actor's character sits out much of the action in the film, with the younger Smith taking top billing.

The sci-fi epic has received dismal notices, with several reviewers raising parallels between the film and Scientology.

Universal's Fast & Furious 6 is widely expected to stay at No. 1 in its second weekend, with a gross in the $45 million to $50 million range.

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Now You See Me, from Summit Entertainment, has been gaining strength in recent days. Directed by Louis Leterrier, the indie pic's ensemble cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco. Many believe the film could now hit $20 million in its debut.

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

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