Is After Earth actually Will Smith’s attempt to make a Scientology movie?

Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan were dealt a crushing professional blow with the box office failure of AFTER EARTH. The poorly reviewed movie only grossed $27 million this weekend and looks to be a longshot to make back it's budget of $130 million. Between all of the reviews and critiques of the film came one very interesting theory: AFTER EARTH is actually a movie inspired by Scientology.

The Hollywood Reporter ran a lengthy exploration of the movie from an ex-member of the Church of Scientology, Marc Headley, who found several connections with the religion created by L. Ron Hubbard. There has never been any official word that Will Smith was a member of the church, but speculation has been around for a long time. Headley drew several comparisons including the use of a volcano in the film:

"Then you have the intergalactic overlord Xenu who, in cahoots with the psychiatrists of the universe, imprisoned millions of souls, froze them and then dumped them into — you guessed it — Earth’s volcanoes. Of all the places in the galaxy! This is part of the upper-level teachings of Scientology that members only find out about after they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Scientology counseling."

While a volcano may not be enough to link AFTER EARTH to Scientology, the use of robotic emotions or the questions that Will Smith's Cypher Raige bombards his son with (akin to Scientology's auditing process).  While AFTER EARTH is not a blatant adaptation like BATTLEFIELD EARTH, the multiple connections makes it hard to ignore this theory.

Take "fear is a choice" which is on the poster and all over the trailers:

"L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings insist that emotions and fear are triggers and are part of the reactive mind," Headley wrote. "Through Scientology, one is supposed to 'rid oneself of your fears.'"

Or Cypher's comment for his son to "be in the present moment":

"Through Scientology training, one learns how to be in 'present time,' or PT as it is commonly referred to by insiders," Headley wrote. "In order to operate as a higher being and be in control over one’s environment, it is considered key that a person exist in present time and not react to the past."

You would think that a film conceived by Will Smith and featuring the actor in a lead role smack dab in the summer would have been a sure fire hit, but the movie just doesn't seem to click beyond a superficial level. Everyone could be reading a lot more into AFTER EARTH than it deserves, but it does beg the question as to whether Scientology can ever break into the mainstream. When Paul Thomas Anderson's THE MASTER was considered a bash at the religion it made headlines online for months. There has not been a peep regarding AFTER EARTH.

AFTER EARTH is now playing.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.