According to studio estimates, it's a tie for first place this weekend between Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs.

‘Cowboys & Aliens’ and ‘The Smurfs’: Too Close to Call

on July 31, 2011 by Daniel Garris
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In what has turned out to be an extremely and unexpectedly close race this weekend, Universal's Cowboys & Aliens is projected to top Sony's The Smurfs by a very slim $6,250. Obviously with the estimated margin essentially indicating a tie, either film could come out on top when studio actuals are released Monday afternoon.

Cowboys & Aliens grossed an estimated $36.21 million. The Jon Favreau directed sci-fi western starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford debuted a bit below expectations. On the other hand The Smurfs significantly exceeded expectations this weekend with $36.20 million. Coming into the weekend, the adaptation of the 1980s animated television series wasn't expected to challenge Cowboys & Aliens for the top spot.

Cowboys & Aliens opened nearly on par with the $35.45 million start of Paramount's Super 8 earlier this summer and 3 percent below the $37.35 million start of 2009's District 9. After opening with $12.99 million on Friday, the film was up slightly on Saturday with $13.07 million. Reviews have not been favorable for Cowboys & Aliens, but the film will hope to avoid heavy drop-offs going forward with the aid of its older skewing audience (63 percent of its audience was 30 years and older this weekend). Cowboys & Aliens skewed slightly more towards male moviegoers (53 percent) and earned a B rating from CinemaScore.

The Smurfs opened 14 percent stronger than the $31.71 million start of 2009's G-Force and 4 percent below the $37.54 million start of fellow family film break-out HOP. Like HOP, The Smurfs will go down as one of the bigger surprises of the year, especially if it is able to hold up well going forward thanks in part to the limited amount of family fare on the schedule for August. While reviews have been terrible, The Smurfs has proven to be truly critic-proof with an A- CinemaScore rating.

The Smurfs opened in first on Friday with $13.4 million and fell to second on Saturday with $12.7 million.   An estimated 65 percent of this weekend's audience for The Smurfs consisted of families. The film skewed towards female moviegoers (64 percent) and moviegoers 25 and older (55 percent). 3D grosses represented 45 percent of the film's grosses this weekend.  While it was still an expensive production in its own right, it should also be noted that The Smurfs was significantly less expensive than the very pricey Cowboys & Aliens.

After exceeding opening weekend expectations last weekend, Paramount's Captain America took a larger than expected tumble in its second weekend. The big-budget Marvel superhero film grossed an estimated $24.91 million, which was down a sharp 62 percent from last weekend and placed the film in third. The added presence of Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs clearly took a toll on Captain America. In comparison, Paramount's Thor fell 47 percent in its second weekend, while Fox's X-Men: First Class fell 56 percent. Despite this weekend's decline, Captain America has already grossed an estimated $116.77 million through ten days of release. That places the film 2 percent behind the pace of Thor and 19 percent ahead of X-Men: First Class at the same point in their respective runs.

Internationally, Captain America grossed $48.5 million from 31 foreign territories this weekend. That places the film's international total at $53.5 million and worldwide total at $170.3 million. Key international debuts included $8.5 million in Mexico, $6.8 million in Brazil, $5.0 million, $4.9 million in the United Kingdom and Ireland and $4.0 million in Russia.

Warner's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II grossed an estimated $21.93 million to finish in fourth place. In the process the final chapter of the blockbuster fantasy series topped both the $300 million domestic mark and the $317.58 million unadjusted total gross of 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to become the highest grossing film of the franchise. However, it should be noted that the inflation adjusted domestic gross of Sorcerer's Stone now stands at $447.98 million. Deathly Hallows: Part II has grossed $318.46 million through 17 days and now trails Paramount's Transformers: Dark of the Moon by just $19.43 million in the race for the year's highest grossing film to date domestically.

On Sunday Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II reached the $1 billion worldwide milestone. The film's international total stands at $690 million, placing its worldwide total at $1.008 billion. That already makes Deathly Hallows: Part II the highest grossing film at the worldwide box office in the history of Warner Bros.

Fellow Warner Bros. release Crazy, Stupid, Love debuted in fifth with an estimated $19.30 million. The ensemble romantic comedy starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone opened on the high end of pre-release expectations. Crazy, Stupid Love opened 4 percent stronger than the $18.62 million start of Sony's Friends with Benefits last weekend and 18 percent softer than the $23.53 million start of Dinner for Schmucks, which opened with $23.53 million in July of 2010. Crazy, Stupid, Love could hold up very well going forward thanks to potentially strong word of mouth and the aid of summer midweek business.

Domestic Comparison Data:

Jan. 1 to Jul. 31, 2011: $6,328,480,000*
Jan. 1 to Jul. 31: 2010: $6,676,246,000
Total Decrease: $347,766,000, -5.2%

Jul. 1 to Jul. 31, 2011: $1,397,540,000*
Jul. 1 to Jul. 31, 2010: $1,319,265,000
Total Increase: $78,275,000, +5.9%

Jul. 29 to Jul. 31, 2011: $180,000,000*
Jul. 30 to Aug. 1, 2010: $145,494,000
Total Increase: $34,506,000, +23.7%

* estimated

Check back tomorrow for studio weekend actuals.

Follow @DanielBOXOFFICE on Twitter for additional box office updates.

Tags: Crazy Stupid Love, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Smurfs, Cowboys & Aliens
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