Box Office Shocker: Will Smith's 'After Earth' Narrowly Loses Friday to 'Now You See Me'

8:32 AM PST 06/01/2013 by Pamela McClintock
Columbia Pictures
"After Earth"

The two films are expected to stay in a close race for the weekend in a major blow for Smith; Sony is counting on the sci-fi adventure to make up ground overseas.

Will Smith's sci-fi adventure After Earth narrowly lost to magician heist pic Now You See Me at the Friday box office in a rare misstep for the actor.

From Sony and produced by Smith's Overbrook Films, After Earth grossed $9.8 million, while Summit Entertainment's Now You See Me overperformed in grossing just north of $10 million.

Friday's results pave the way for a weekend showdown between the two films. Box office observers expect each to gross in the $27 million to $28 million range, with some giving Now You See Me a slight advantage, thanks to strong word of mouth and an A- CinemaScore. After Earth, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, earned a B CinemaScore.

VIDEO: 'After Earth' Trailer: Will and Jaden Smith Go on the Ultimate Father-Son Bonding Trip

Featuring the actor opposite his son, JadenAfter Earth is a blemish for the elder Smith, considered one of the world's biggest stars. Sony is counting on the sci-fi movie to make up ground overseas.

After Earth is a passion project for Smith, who came up with the idea for the story and tapped Shyamalan to direct $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 after grossing $10.5 million Friday for a projected $35 million-plus weekend.

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

The film cost north of $70 million to produce, with much of the budget offset by foreign presales.

Warner Bros. and Legendary's The Hangover Part III tumbled 87 percent on its second Friday, grossing $5.2 million for a domestic total of $77.4 million. The final installment in Todd Phillips' R-rated comedy franchise placed No. 4.

Paramount's Star Trek Into Darkness continued to enjoy a nice hold, placing No. 5 with $4.5 million on Friday. The J.J. Abrams-directed sequel is projected to end the weekend with a domestic gross in the $180 million range.

Animated family pic Epic placed No. 6 on its second Friday, grossing $4.1 million. From Fox, the 3D title is expected to end the weekend with a domestic cume north of $64 million.

The trio of holdovers will likely switch positions for the weekend once final tallies come in.

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

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