‘After Earth’ takes Will Smith back near his Philadelphia hometown

Will Smith
Will Smith stars in “After Earth,” also starring his son Jaden Smith. Much of the movie was filmed on sound stages outside Philadelphia.
(Frank Masi / Columbia Pictures)

The science fiction movie “After Earth” marks a homecoming of sorts for star Will Smith, a Philadelphia native.

A major portion of the Columbia Pictures movie, which opens Friday, was filmed at the new Sun Center Studios outside Philadelphia that is also not far from where director M. Night Shyamalan was raised.

In “After Earth,” Smith plays a general who returns to earth with his son -- played by Jaden Smith -- 1,000 years after humans have left.

Although some key scenes of the film were shot in the redwoods of Northern California, as well as in Costa Rica and Utah, Sun Center Studios wasted no time touting its own ties to the movie -- and its Hollywood stars.


ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll

“Notwithstanding the many other and undeniably exotic locations where filming took place, the Sun Center Studios management team was pleased that the production chose to work at our new facility and shoot most of their stage work here,” Adam Rotwitt, senior vice president at Sun Center, said in a statement. “We could not be more proud to have hosted such a major motion picture with two of our hometown heroes who also happen to be two of the world’s biggest box-office stars." 

Some of the most complex scenes for the film, including those with an 18,000-pound spaceship, were shot on Sun Center’s newly opened stages. The futuristic spaceship was placed on a 90,000-pound gimbal that uses hydraulics to mimic a trembling motion to move the spaceship during filming.

Opened in August 2011 on a 33-acre site, the complex has 60,000 square feet of sound stages and plans to open an additional 110,000 square feet this fall, capitalizing on Pennsylvania’s film incentives.


The state offers a 25% tax credit toward in-state production expenses, with an additional 5% if productions shoot at Sun Center, which is expecting another big but as yet unnamed film to shoot at its facility this summer. ‘After Earth’ was approved for a $12-million film tax credit.


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