In the battle between gruff cowboys and (cute, little blue) aliens, nobody apparently won. At least not yet. Both Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs grossed $36.2 million, according to studio estimates. This will all become clearer Monday morning. Until then, revel in the fact that we have an extremely rare tie here.
However, despite the photo finish, this is a much more favorable outcome for The Smurfs than it is for Cowboys & Aliens. The latter film, a $163 million Western/sci-fi concoction starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, was expected to easily win the weekend. Its pedigree was first-rate, with Jon Favreau (Iron Man) directing and Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer producing. Yet the PG-13 film struggled to attract younger moviegoers, who may have been turned off by the Western elements. According to Universal, 63 percent of the audience was 30 or older.
Its mediocre reviews may have discouraged those on the fence, too, and CinemaScore graders handed the film a “B” rating, indicating merely okay word of mouth. (CinemaScore participants are usually very generous, so a “B” grade is nothing to boast about.) Cowboys & Aliens performed slightly better than the summer’s other Spielberg-produced alien flick, Super 8, which debuted to $35.5 million. However, that picture cost only $50 million to produce and didn’t feature any big-name stars.
The biggest selling point for The Smurfs was the Belgian critters themselves, although having the impossible-to-hate Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t have hurt, either. The $110 million live-action and animation hybrid was the recipient of some very unflattering reviews, but the market was clearly hungry for a new family film. Sony simultaneously marketed the picture to both children and nostalgic adults who grew up with the Peyo comics and animated show, and that gambit seems to have paid off. The Smurfs garnered an “A-” score from CinemaScore audiences, with those under 25 giving it a solid “A.” Screens showing the movie in 3-D accounted for 45 percent of its opening gross.
The weekend’s third new release, Crazy, Stupid, Love., opened in fifth place to a respectable $19.3 million. The Warner Bros. romantic comedy, starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone, registered a slightly better debut than last week’s Friends with Benefits ($18.6 million). Crazy, Stupid, Love is yet another victory for adult comedies this summer, joining prior hits The Hangover Part II, Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses, and the aforementioned Friends with Benefits. The $45 million movie also continued Carell’s impressive box-office streak — the actor hasn’t had a flop since 2007′s pricey Evan Almighty. CinemaScore audiences gave Crazy, Stupid, Love. a “B+” grade, while reviews were mostly positive. The PG-13 film particularly appealed to older women, with 71 percent of the audience at least 25 years old, and 64 percent female.
Among holdovers, Captain America: The First Avenger fell a steep 62 percent for $24.9 million. After two weekends, it has tallied $116.8 million, which is slightly behind what Thor had accumulated at the same point ($119.5 million). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 dropped 54 percent for $21.9 million, pushing the final Potter movie past Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to become the series’ top-grossing entry at $318.5 million. Also, Warner Bros. says Deathly Hallows will pass $1 billion worldwide today, becoming the first Potter film to do so and only the ninth movie ever to join the billion-dollar club.
In limited release, the British sci-fi comedy Attack the Block debuted to a decent $130,000 at eight theaters. Sundance indies The Devil’s Double and The Guard took in $95,000 and $80,400 at five and four locations, respectively. Miranda July’s The Future collected $28,200 at one New York theater, while the filmed-by-YouTube-users documentary Life in a Day disappointed with only $45,500 at 11 locations.
Check back next week as the prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes attempts to evolve past yet another body-swapping comedy in The Change-Up.
1. (tie) Cowboys & Aliens — $36.2 mil
1. (tie) The Smurfs — $36.2 mil
3. Captain America: The First Avenger — $24.9 mil
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 — $21.9 mil
5. Crazy, Stupid, Love. — $19.3 mil