Box office preview: 'Cowboys & Aliens' takes aim at 'The Smurfs' invasion


Image Credit: Zade Rosenthal

With the debt ceiling crisis still looming, this could be the final weekend before the entire American economy collapses in an explosion so magnificent that Michael Bay wouldn’t cut away from it for two whole seconds. Realizing that you may never have discretionary income again, Hollywood is offering three — three! — new major releases this weekend. One’s a genre mash-up whose title tells you exactly what to expect (Cowboys & Aliens), one is a TV-series adaptation whose title can be used as both a noun and a verb (The Smurfs), and one is a romantic comedy whose title, for reasons we may never know, contains two commas and a period (Crazy, Stupid, Love.). Here’s how I think the box office will stack up this weekend:

1. Cowboys & Aliens: $42 million

Just look at its fanboy pedigree: director Jon Favreau (Iron Man); writers Damon Lindelof (Lost), Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek), Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Iron Man); and producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer. Not to mention that it stars Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and James Bond (Daniel Craig). All that’s missing is Nathan Fillion, and the geek assembly would be complete. Anyhow, what the $163 million Cowboys & Aliens has going for it is star power (both in front of and behind the camera) and an easy-to-understand concept that should feel unique in a summer stuffed with sequels, superheroes, and superfluous 3-D.

However, the fact that Cowboys & Aliens isn’t based on a popular property (it’s adapted from a little-known graphic novel) may discourage some moviegoers, as will its mediocre reviews. And past experiments with the Western (see Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex) haven’t received the warmest of embraces. For comparison, the alien-themed Super 8 and Battle: Los Angeles both debuted to about $35 million. Cowboys & Aliens will open a bit larger than that thanks to its big-name talent, but don’t expect a monster smash.

2. The Smurfs: $32 million

This is the real wild card. Will the $110 million live-action/animation hybrid follow in the footsteps of Yogi Bear ($16.4 million opening) or Alvin and the Chipmunks ($44.3 million)? Unsurprisingly, reviews have been abysmal, but star Neil Patrick Harris is among Hollywood’s most likable actors, and I get the sense there’s a lot of nostalgia out there for these little blue guys. (At the time of this writing, the ticket service Fandango was reporting that The Smurfs was selling more tickets than any other movie.) Toss in a slight box-office bump from 3-D showings at 2,042 locations, and I’m thinking The Smurfs makes it past $30 million.

3. Captain America: The First Avenger: $31 million

Cap opened to a solid $65.1 million last week. The year’s other two Marvel-based movies, Thor and X-Men: First Class, dropped 47 and 56 percent their second weekends, respectively. Look for Captain America to drop somewhere in between those two figures — let’s say a tad more than 50 percent. With an “A-” rating from CinemaScore graders, it’s got encouraging word of mouth, but Cowboys & Aliens should steal a significant portion of its older male audience.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2: $23 million

Deathly Hallows plummeted 72 percent last weekend, but keep in mind it was coming off of the biggest opening weekend of all time ($169.2 million). In fact, Deathly Hallows crossed $900 million worldwide on Wednesday, reaching that milestone in a record-breaking 15 days — three days faster than Avatar. The final Potter movie is well on its way to becoming the franchise’s only entry to pass $1 billion globally.

Domestically, the film should hold up better this weekend. The last two Potter flicks to open in July — The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince — suffered large second-weekend drops of 58 percent and 62 percent, respectively. Their third-weekend declines, however, were more reasonable: 46 percent and 39 percent. For Deathly Hallows, a drop of around 50 percent seems right.

5. Crazy, Stupid, Love.: $17 million

After The Hangover Part II, Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses, Larry Crowne, and last week’s Friends with Benefits, the moviegoing public could be the verge of suffering from adult-comedy fatigue. However, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is earning positive reviews, Steve Carell has been a consistent box-office draw, and — in case the marketing campaign hasn’t tipped you off yet — Ryan Gosling shows some skin. Now if only that title could be Photoshopped.

Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • george

    romantic comedies reek

  • Vin

    It seems like a lot of the movies I planned on seeing this summer I’m skipping, such as Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (increasingly annoying Jack Sparrow character and bad comic relief), The Hangover 2 (doesn’t even try to be different from the original), Green Lantern (horrible special effects and even worse humor), Cars 2 (unnecessary sequel to Pixar’s least liked film) and Transformers 3 (2 1/2 hours of meaningless explosions). And there’s the fact that they all received around 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. So why waste money on a movie I know might be bad anyway? Now I’m hesitant on seeing Cowboys and Aliens with its so-so reviews. I’ll probably go see Crazy Stupid Love this weekend. The cast looks wonderful. I recommend Harry Potter. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year and a terrific finale to the series. Captain America, while it wasn’t amazing, it was still better than I expected. The only other movies I plan on seeing this summer are Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 30 Minutes Or Less. The Fall movie season is shaping up to be fantastic.

    • Sven

      Why thank you sir, for letting us know your itinerary for movies you will be viewing. Please go play in traffic now.

      • Shabambu

        Thumbs up

  • DavidJ

    Was already suffering from trailer fatigue on Cowboys and Aliens, and now the mediocre reviews pretty much sealed it.

    Think I’ll go see Captain America a second time instead.

    • Sal

      What you are forgetting is that critics generally don’t like movies like “Cowboys and Aliens”. In fact, most don’t even like Harry Potter or the Marvel movies, they just give them high grades just to save face. In fact, critics HATE movies unless they have terrible actors portraying drug-addicted pedophiles. All I am saying, don’t put too much faith in critics and give C&A a chance… you might actually like it. There have been many movies in history that were blasted by critics but are loved by the general public.

  • graeme

    I cant wait to see Crazy Stupid Love. $17 million would be good…but I hope it surprises and opens even bigger.

    • HD

      This is really the only movie I’ve been looking forward to this summer, so, hopefully…

      • Katie

        Me too! Been so looking forward to it. Going today.

  • John

    Nathan Fillion is not even close to being in the same category as Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. In fact, who is Nathan Fillion?

    • Inara

      How DARE you John!!! NATHAN FILLION! The man who played the most heroic, most handsome browncoat of them all! No, it’s alright :) A lot of people don’t know who he is. He is a great actor who is probably most known for playing Malcolm Reynolds in the series Firefly and has a very, very strong if relatively small following (especially compared to Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig)and most of whom (including myself) are slightly geeky. But his reputation due to the show Castle seems to be growing, which is awesome since he’s an amazing actor. If you haven’t seen him in Firefly, I highly recommend doing so :)

    • Marc

      LMAO!!!!! EW keeps trying to make Nathan Fillion happen, but no matter how hard they try, he doesn’t. (BTW, Fillion is a mediocre “actor” whose entire career seems based on starring in flops: Serenity, Slither, White Noise 2, Drive, Waitress. Even now that he actually, miraculously got a starring role in a TV show that more than two people watch (CASTLE) he still hasn’t managed to become a star or to get any significant buzz) The problem is that no matter how much the fanboys insist he has charisma, he doesn’t. He lacks that certain, elusive thing that movie stars like Ford and Jolie have in spades and that you can’t conjure up. BTW, genre fanboys still think that Serenity DID NOT flop on TV or at the box office. LMAO!!!!!

      • Punam

        This movie’s high price tag is its main problem in more way than one.The bsueniss plan of coming up with outrageous titles first and some (any) movie to go along with them second has been around probably as long as movies themselves, and at least since Val Lewton let Jacques Tourneur make whatever movies he wanted as long as they were called Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie. More recently the home video boom gave us Troma and Empire Films, and things like Decapitator and Class of Nuke Em High. That a few of the movies ended up being good is nice, but beside the point; the whole model springs from the premise that since there’s no money for decent production value or advertising, the film’s title is the only arrow in their quiver. On the one hand, it’s easy to see why the practice now appeals to the majors: In an age of information and media overload, you need an outrageous title to break through the clutter.The problem is that unless you luck into a Tournier, most these movies aren’t going to be good. In fact most of them are going to narratively inert and preposterous in ways you can sense intuitively from the first time you hear, say, Snakes on a Plane or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Val Lewton and Troma both knew they only needed a relative handful of suckers to make a tidy little profit. Blockbusters are another story, and this strategy in the end is a at least as risky and far more craven than making good films and hoping for the best.

    • Wendy

      Nathan Fillion was a space cowboy on Firefly.

      • Dewayne

        Anocoals on April 3, 2011 OMG, has anyone else ceointd that at the end when all the characters are singing in a group, the guys are mainly on the left and the girls on the right? Everyone but ROD!!! He’s on the girl’s side, and he always is! That should give you SOME clue he’s gay, right? Rod FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dave

    What do you have against the title Crazy, Stupid, Love? There’s nothing wrong with it.

    • Nayomi

      I just read your article in The Federal Observer and aepapcirte the effort you must have put into it. I have briefly talked about the shadow government in my blog, but have not been successful, in my meager research attempts, in finding much detailed info on the Bilderberg Group, the CFR, or the Trilateral Commission . Very informative article. Keep up the good work.

  • Brahmin

    I say different…

    I think Smurfs take the lead…nostalgia and most other things are adult heavy.

    Aliens 2

    Capt 3

    Potter 4 with a little higher gross –some people were actually waiting till things died down to see the movie.

    Crazy stupid love seems spot on

  • Jose

    Parents, why are you taking your kids to The Smurfs? Why can’t you take them instead to Winnie the Pooh instead? God its irratating how The Smurfs will probably have an audience.

    I wonder if Crazy, Stupid, Love will open bigger, it looks likeable enough, and if there’s chance for Cowboys & Aliens to underperform

    • chris

      Hey, I will be taking my kid to see Winnie-the-Pooh. ;-)
      I hated the Smurfs as a kid, so nostalgia, my a**, I will not be seeing it on screen. It’s been horrible enough seeing all my favorite comics get hacked these past years.

    • Christian

      I recently wathecd the and I agree, the movies hold up well. They’re still fun and entertaining movies, good family viewing.Movies like Cowboys Aliens are all flash, big name actors and no character, and no story.

  • Almar

    Captain America sucked, It was 2 hours with no story.

    • Devin Faraci

      I guess you fell asleep. Drunk?

    • Indra

      LOL. You know that I love it. All your panicking and being at a loss and you tuernd out such a fun little piece!!Sarah Cass recently posted..[]Mary Terrani Reply:October 20th, 2011 at 5:23 pmIt was one of those moments that it just smacks you in the back of the head LOL Trust me you helped A LOT to get that out.[]

  • Justin

    Looking forward to Cowboys & Aliens and Crazy stupid love this weekend.

  • Smurfette

    I’m gonna have some crazy stupid love with cowboys and aliens this weekend.

    • Diane



    If you see The Smurfs, then the terrorists win.

    • dee123

      Why do people keeping seeing these movies that just crap all over so many people’s childhood memories? The Chipmunk films, Yogi Bear & i’m sure The Smurfs, are all horrible.

      • Jackie

        That is an excellent question. I read on here the other day that there’s a live-action ‘Captain Planet’ movie in the works. The idea both intrigues and disgusts me.

  • Ilona Sherman


    • S.O.

      Well there’s one good review for C&A that is good enough for me.

    • Alicia

      Cheers for that link I’m going to print that up and pop it on my desk because it ideeiiftns the problems I was facing in this page perfectly.Cheers for noticing the drain, they didn’t really describe the room all that well so I went with practicality, the same with the suits that they are wearing. Although I admit to thinking I knew what they looked like from another aliens comic (which was way off) and trying to move away from that take which ironically moved me closer to what the actual comic’s look and feel was.It actually pleases me that you picked up on the blue text panels because they are like that only because it was a mistake and the first one which is a thought balloon and the others are spoken but I messed up the balloon and was just trying to stick the text in there!!They completely diminish the first one which I felt was really effective.Cheers on my alien’s guts I was going to do this in black and white but as soon as I was thinking about the organs I knew it had to have yellow and green and the colour grew from that.I was originally slightly let down when I saw the comic book version because obviously I have a style which is completely different and certainly not as neat but I reconciled that as a good thing.Cheers again I’m working on a non-fiction one with a really hard page now. Reply

  • boom

    42m OW for 163m movie is flop, no way to spin in it, WWW2….Harrison and aliens don’t mix well

    • rickastley

      you obviously havent seen that little movie from the 70’s called STAR WARS…

      then again there was Indy 4

      • Sal

        Well, I guess you could say that HF and aliens don’t mix… after all, look what he did to Greedo!

  • T

    Need something to see ?
    See Captain America and/or Horrible Bosses for a good time over the weekend.

    Me, I’m not a fan of Rom-Coms but I am going see Crazy, Stupid Love.
    Love that hot redhead, Julianne Moore.

    • Sirwan

      En 1997 una chica llamada Lauren cesparedif3 cerca de su casa. Estaba caminando por un bosque y despue9s nadie la vio hasta enero de 2000, en que otra chica, llamada Mary, encontrf3 su cuerpo degollado y con unas marcas en su pecho que decian: “no era lo suficiente hermosa”. La habedan violado por todo lado antes de abrirle la garganta y sacarle los ojos. El video del crimen aparecif3 poco despue9s y fue visto por algunos se1dicos que gozaron como puercos. Desde entonces Lauren busca venganza. Ahora que haz leido esto ella te buscare1. Una noche que entres en tu casa a oscuras, ella aparecera en tu espejo y te mirare1 a los ojos, dicie9ndote que no eres lo suficientemente hermoso y te matare1, abrie9ndote de arriba abajo, en canal, con un bistured mellado. Por cierto, la chica llamada Mary murif3 poco despue9s de este modo. Para calmar a Lauren, para poder salvarte, pega este aviso en otros cinco videos. ESTO ES CIERTO, NO LO DUDES

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