"Fast & Furious 6" remained atop the North America box office for a second weekend, figures showed Monday, but the big story was the spectacular flop for Will Smith's "After Earth."
The post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, co-starring the Hollywood veteran's son Jaden, made a less-than-stellar $27.5 million to be pushed into third place, behind crime-caper "Now You See Me."
Industry journal Variety called the opening weekend a "crash landing," saying its makers must now pin hopes on the film doing well internationally, where it opens mostly in the next week or two.
"Could 'After Earth' end Will Smith's box office domination?" asked the Hollywood Reporter, noting that the film marks his worst summer opening in two decades.
Analyst Jeff Bock of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said: "Will Smith isn't out of the game by any stretch, despite 'After Earth' crashing and burning domestically."
But distributor Sony "knows that the only saving grace for this film now is international audiences."
"'After Earth' might never be a big hit but at least it won't be an outright bomb if overseas audiences propel it towards $200+ million," as they did for last year's "John Carter," which led to the departure of a top Disney boss.
The movie was critically panned even before its weekend release, earning a dismal 12 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which called it a "dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi."
But its dismal debut in theaters is a shock, since every one of Smith's summer event movies has opened at the top of the box office, from "Independence Day" to the "Men in Black" movies.
The 44-year-old is the only actor to have eight films in a row make more than $100 million at the US box office and 10 consecutive films over $150 million internationally, it noted.
Box office watcher Bock of Exhibitor Relations said Smith will have to tread carefully, but can survive the flop.
"His next moves will be watched closely though, but I guarantee every big name director would still be willing to work with him on the right project," he told AFP.
"Remember, John Travolta survived 'Battlefield Earth' (a 2000 movie based on book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard), so no doubt Smith can survive this dent in his box office armor."
Back at the top of the box office, "Fast and Furious 6," the action sequel starring Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, stayed in pole position with $35.2 million, ahead of $29.3 million for "Now You See Me."
"Star Trek: Into Darkness," another sequel, was in fourth spot with $16.8 million, a whisker ahead of computer animated fantasy-adventure "Epic" on $16.6 million at the weekend, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said.
Slipping down to sixth from second spot last week was "The Hangover Part III," starring Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis. The final film in the series, given a thumbs down by many critics, earned $16.4 million.
Robert Downey Jr's return in "Iron Man 3," meanwhile, took seventh place with $8.4 million, while "The Great Gatsby," Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the literary classic, slipped two places, earning $6.5 million in eighth place.
Rounding out the top 10 were a new entry from Bollywood, "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani," a coming of age drama, which earned $1.6 million, and "Mud," with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, which took $1.2 million in sales.