Box Office: Cowboys, Aliens and Smurfs Get Caught Necking

And what a sight it was. Especially when you consider the only two females of the bunch are Olivia Wilde and Smurfette. I’m not sure if that makes it weirder or more appealing. Anyway, what was believed to be a no-brainer for Cowboys & Aliens to take the box office proved to be more difficult thanks to a whole bunch of little CG creatures and Hank Azaria. NPH probably had a hand in it, too. When final numbers come out Monday, one or the other will surely pull ahead. They can’t be dead even down to the penny, can they? But as of now, The Smurfs and Cowboys & Aliens are tied for the weekend, one performing slightly better than expected and the other slightly worse.

Smurfs will probably win out when all is said and done. On Friday, it pulled in a little over $400,000 more than Cowboys & Aliens despite both films getting hit with some serious critical shrapnel. Smurfs has a 20% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Cowboys & Aliens is a bit better with 44%. Still, in terms of box office success, the budget is always a factor. While Smurfs features an overload of CG, it still probably didn’t cost as much as $163m, which Cowboys & Aliens is reported to have cost. Smurfs being considered a financial hit or dud remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. CG blue creatures are always a hit.

But looking at that $163m is worrisome for Jon Favreau fans. After two massive hits with Iron Man 1 and 2, he seemed destined to go on to a lucrative career punching out Summer blockbusters. Unfortunately, he first went to this project. Cowboys & Aliens was a hard sell as it was, and the more Universal showed of it, the hokier it got. The poor word of mouth didn’t help matters, and, at the end of the day, Cowboys & Aliens could end up being the biggest bomb of the Summer. Westerns don’t generally fair well overseas, either, so foreign box office won’t be much of a factor. This could prove to be a step back for that genre and for Favreau as a director. The alien factor is just fine.

Speaking of which, Attack the Block opened this weekend on 8 screens across the nation and pulled in $130,000. That comes out to a $16,250 per screen average, not bad at all for a genre picture whose biggest demographic draw has mostly already seen the film due to all the advanced screenings. It wasn’t a runaway hit in limited release, and the film’s expansion remains to be seen. Still, with such positive word of mouth, Sony would be silly not to push the film as hard as they can, especially with the Summer season coming to a close and audiences wanting one more bit of escapism in their theaters.

They’ve all seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon already, anyway. Those two films are still duking it out for the top spot of the year in terms of domestic box office. Worldwide they’re raking it in, too. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is at $982.8m worldwide, and Deathly Hallows 2 is at $963.7m. They’ll both be topping $1b for their respective studios. It’s just a matter of time now. In related news, Dark of the Moon hitting $1b worldwide will be a first for both Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg. Thank God those up-and-comers are starting to hit the big time.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Smurfs – $36.2m NEW
  2. Cowboys & Aliens – $36.2m NEW
  3. Captain America: The First Avenger – $24.9m (-61.7%) $116.7m total
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – $21.9m (-53.8%) $318.4m total
  5. Crazy, Stupid, Love – $19.3m NEW
  6. Friends With Benefits – $9.3m (-50.1%) $38.2m total
  7. Horrible Bosses – $7.1m (-40.3%) $96.2m total
  8. Transformers: Dark of the Moon – $5.9m (-50.5%) $337.8m total
  9. Zookeeper – $4.2m (-51.7%) $68.7m total
  10. Cars 2 – $2.3m (-59.3%) $182m total

The weekend was down again from last weekend. The $167.3m brought in by the top 10 was lower than expected even though the Smurf boost and the Cowboys & Aliens miss essentially canceled each other out. The rest of the chart dropped more than expected, especially Captain America having a 2nd weekend drop of more than 60%. It wasn’t a blockbuster level weekend, but it was still a solid effort as the season nears its end.

Next weekend is pretty much the end of it, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes closes out the Summer movie season with a couple of grunts. The Change-Up also hits for that R-rated comedy audience who need new entertainment each and every week.

We’ll be back on Thursday night to see how the weekend is shaping up.

Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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