EXCLUSIVE: As Sony Pictures begins to create buzz for the M Night Shyamalan-directed Will and Jaden Smith-starrer After Earth, the studio has also sealed plans to get out in front of the summer 2013 tenpole with a number of other initiatives. Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Consumer Products, The Random House Publishing Group and Ebury Publishing is set to create a broad line of publishing products based on the film and the universe that was created from the script by Gary Whitta and Shyamalan, based on a story by Will Smith. The film is produced by Caleeb Pinkett, Smith, James Lassiter, and Shyamalan.
After Earth is set 1000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape from Earth, and Nova Prime has become mankind’s new home. Legendary Gen. Cypher Raige (Will Smith) returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai (Jaden Smith). When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai’s craft, they crash-land on a now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. As his father lies dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon. His whole life, Kitai has wanted nothing more than to be a soldier like his father. Today, he gets his chance. It’s the second time the Smiths are forming a father-son tandem after The Pursuit Of Happyness.
The publishing and digital shorts program will encompass two novels and multiple shorts, along with a single-issue comic, After Earth: Innocence, which Random House publishes in October in partnership with Dynamite Entertainment. The comic is a prequel that introduces Cypher and Kitai and helps establish the world by covering such incidents as mankind’s exodus from Earth and arrival on Nova Prime, as well as the first contact with a deadly alien species. Artwork is being provided by Beni R. Lobel and an exclusive edition of the comic with an alternate cover by artist Jae Lee will be released here at Comic-Con.
There will also be a prequel novel and an official novelization, as well as a series of digital shorts telling stories set in the world of After Earth. Each short will be available on all major e-reading platforms. The novels, comic and digital shorts will be penned by writers including bestselling authors Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and Robert Greenberger.
“We believe this is a unique opportunity to bring a franchise to life across different platforms over a period of time, which our partners at Random House have wholeheartedly embraced,” said Gaetano Mastropasqua, Head of Franchise Development at Overbrook. “We have created over 1000 years of mythology and family heritage that contribute to the foundation of this new world. Through these platforms both our core fan-base, and those just being introduced to the franchise, are able to explore the After Earth universe in depth. Random House is uniquely positioned to help us bring this to life using both their publishing and digital platforms.”
“We’re excited about this great opportunity to work not only with the team at Dynamite and our counterparts at Ebury, but also directly with the creative team at Overbrook,” said Keith Clayton, associate publisher of Del Rey Books. “It’s important to us that the stories we’re helping to shape are in line with the team’s larger vision for the world of After Earth. The level of collaboration has been exceptional.”