After Earth is a 2013 American post-apocalyptic action film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who co-wrote it with Gary Whitta. The film was loosely based on an original story idea by Will Smith about a father-and-son trip in the wilderness before it was eventually reworked into a sci-fi setting, taking place 1,000 years in the future where humans evacuated Earth to another planet due to a massive environmental catastrophe. It is the second film after The Pursuit of Happyness that stars real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith; Will Smith also produced via his company Overbrook Entertainment, and the distribution was by Columbia Pictures. The film was co-produced by John Rusk, who was also the first assistant director on this film as well as on many of Shyamalan's other films. The film follows father and son, Cypher and Kitai Raige, who find themselves crash-landing on the abandoned Earth. When Cypher gets injured from the crash, Kitai must travel across the wild environment in search of a backup beacon to fire a distress signal, while having to fend himself from the highly evolved animals, as well as an extraterrestrial creature that detects its prey by smelling fear.
Kitai confronts many of the hazards his father warned about, including attacks from baboon-like monkeys, a venomous leech, a thermal shift, and the damaging of two of his capsules. After a story from Cypher about how he conceived "ghosting" to kill the Ursas, Kitai reaches a cliffside waterfall and Cypher learns about the broken capsules. Knowing that the only way to make it with the two capsules would be to skydive, Cypher orders Kitai to abort the mission, but Kitai, believing that Cypher still sees him as a disappointment, goes against the order after a monologue of him blaming Cypher's absence at home for Senshi's death. Kitai is captured by a large condor and his communicator is damaged. In the bird's nest, Kitai tries and fails to defend her chicks against big cats before escaping to a river, where he drifts on a raft. After a sleep where he dreams of Senshi, he wakes up to a thermal shift that nearly freezes him to death. Kitai is rescued when the bird, who had lost her brood when the cats attacked, sacrifices herself for him because Kitai tried to protect her chicks.
Will Smith conceived this story when he was watching the television show called I Shouldn't Be Alive with his brother-in-law Caleeb Pinkett. It was originally not a science fiction story but about a father and son crashing their car in the mountains or some remote region, with the son having to go out and get rescue for his father. Smith then decided to change the setting to 1000 years in the future, which imposed a higher production budget. The film was also intended to be the first in a trilogy. Smith had his production company Overbrook contact Gary Whitta (who was then known for his script for The Book of Eli) with a simple log line for a film: a father and son crash landed on Earth 1000 years after it had been abandoned by humankind. Impressed with his idea and excited about the opportunity to work with him, Whitta fleshed out Smith's idea and pitched it to him, subsequently becoming the first employee on the project.
In December 2011, Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony, signed up both Will and Jaden Smith to co-star in the film with Shyamalan directing. Shyamalan, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Gary Whitta, also additionally co-produced the film with James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith. Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, made the announcement and said, "Night is an outstanding filmmaker who has a tremendous vision for this science-fiction adventure story and we couldn't be more excited to be working again with Jaden after our experiences on The Pursuit of Happyness and The Karate Kid," and added "We're thrilled to have the two of them together on this project." Shyamalan also added, "The chance to make a scary, science-fiction film starring Jaden and Will is my dream project." Will Smith's decision to take on the starring adult male role required him to step aside in producing and starring in the Hurricane Katrina drama The American Can, and offered the lead role to Denzel Washington instead. The shooting of the movie was also pushed back from September 2011 to January 2012.
Will Smith starred in and wrote a film called After Earth. The movie featured his son Jaden Smith in his first real role as a grown-up. The original idea of the movie was devised by Will Smith himself and he also produced the movie via his own company Overbrook Entertainment. The story of the movie revolves around abandoned post-apocalyptic earth and all the challenges that one will face. But did you know that Will Smith wanted and asked for M. Night Shyamalan to direct the film? Find out why the actor was so eager to get M. Night Shyamalan in his movie.