I Am Legend is a 2007 American post-apocalyptic action thriller film loosely based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. Directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich, the film stars Will Smith as US Army virologist Robert Neville.
It is set in New York City after a virus, originally created to cure cancer, has wiped out most of mankind, leaving Robert Neville as the last healthy human on Earth, other than nocturnal mutants. The other humans have become vampire-like mutants, and all are hungry for Neville’s blood. Neville is immune to the virus, and he works to develop a cure while defending himself against the hostile mutants. It is the third feature-film adaptation of Matheson’s novel following 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and 1971’s The Omega Man.
Warner Bros. began developing I Am Legend in 1994 and various actors and directors were attached to the project, though production was delayed due to budgetary concerns related to the script. Production began in 2006 in New York City, filming mainly on location in the city, including a $5 million scene at the Brooklyn Bridge.
I Am Legend was released on December 14, 2007, in the United States and Canada. It opened to the largest-ever box office for a non-Christmas film released in the U.S. in December and was the seventh-highest grossing film of 2007, earning $256 million domestically and $329 million internationally for a total of $585 million.
I Am Legend squeal
The fact that I Am Legend 2 is happening with Will Smith set to star alongside Michael B. Jordan means that the alternate ending of the first movie has to be canon. Taking many by surprise, a sequel to the 2007 film was announced despite more than a decade with no indication that the adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel would receive a follow-up. Instead, most expected a remake or TV show of I Am Legend. Despite the success of I Am Legend, which claimed $585 million at the worldwide box office, the film had a mixed reception and didn’t seem sequel-friendly as the main character, Robert Neville, died at the end.
The main criticism leveled at France Lawrence’s film was that the ending was so different from the one in the books that it completely missed the point of Richard Matheson’s story. In the book, Robert Neville realizes moments before he is executed for his crimes against the Darkseekers that he was the monster for that new species.
Therefore, the legend in the title referred to his role as a boogeyman rather than a survivor. I Am Legend, in turn, avoided Will Smith’s character being perceived as a villain and went for a more Hollywood ending in which Neville sacrifices himself to destroy the monsters and save Anna and Ethan. There was, however, an alternate ending to I Am Legend much closer to the end of the novel. In the alternative ending Neville lets the Darkseeker go and leaves without any confrontation with the creatures. The sequel will be written by Akiva Goldsman, who co-wrote the original film and adapted Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel at the same time.