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With Will Smith back on top of the box office thanks to Men In Black 3, reminding everyone what a refreshing screen presence he can be, we should probably all be paying a little more attention to his next film After Earth, in which he co-stars opposite his son Jaden. And the reunion of the Smith men-- they co-starred in The Pursuit of Happyness, you may remember-- isn't even the most intriguing part of this sci-fi project. It's also the next film from M. Night Shyamalan, who turned a Best Director nomination for The Sixth Sense into an increasingly baffling and critically maligned career, ending with 2010's The Last Airbender, a critical disaster that nonetheless made $319 million worldwide.

That kind of cash has allowed Shyamalan another big budget for After Earth, which stars both the elder and younger Smith as a father and son who crash land on an alien planet somewhere in the distant future. At some point it becomes a coming-of-age saga, with Jaden forced to step up to the plate and rescue his father-- and from the way Shyamalan has been describing the film in fairly detailed updates on his Twitter feed, it's much more Jaden's film than Will's. Describing how many set-ups he shoots a day, Shyamalan said it was " pretty much 10 shots. 8 with Jaden, 2 without." He also got into detail about the process of sending out shots for CGI completion, even while he was still in the process of editing. Here are a couple of tweets, put into proper order, explaining how strange that must be:

And while the director probably has absolutely no control over the marketing, he came up with a pretty nifty tagline for After Earth that at least has me more interested:

No matter what you think of his recent output of films, Shyamalan is a really lovely and gracious presence on Twitter, interacting frequently with his fans, bringing up aspects of filmmaking you'd never even think about being frustrating, and even having a little mini-conversation with Darren Aronofsky, who you can imagine he met back when they were both the promising up-and-comers in the late 90s. I've definitely added Shyamalan to my Twitter feed thanks to this, and here's hoping all this enthusiasm here translates to a solid final product when After Earth opens in theaters next year.
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