BOX OFFICE: Dead Heat for ‘Cowboys’ and ‘Smurfs’

For the first time since I have been reporting Box Office estimates the night before we get the final numbers the top two spots are locked in a tie. Universal and Sony Pictures have both reported that their respective films Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs have earned $36.2 million. This unfortunately puts them well ahead of several better reviewed movies and continues to show the irrelevance of movie critics. At least limited releases like The Future, Attack the Block, and The Guard all had strong weekends in the few cities that got to see them.

Box Office Estimates
July 29-31, 2011

1) Cowboys & Aliens (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $36.2 million

I think that when the dust settles it will actually be this Jon Favreau action movie that ends in first place. It was behind The Smurfs on Friday by quite a bit, but made up significant ground on Saturday and probably did well enough on Sunday to take over the top spot. However, it is still a bit behind The Smurfs in terms of per theatre average because it was on almost 400 more screens.

2) The Smurfs (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $36.2 million

Bad word of mouth hurt this movie as its earnings gradually declined throughout the weekend. However, considering its budget compared to the budget of Cowboys & Aliens, I would say this silly cartoon actually came out ahead. Let’s hope its decline continues fast, however, so we are not subjected to Smurfs 2: The Smurfquel.

3) Captain America: The First Avenger (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $24.91 million

It is difficult to say, but it seems that when the Summer concludes Thor will be the highest grossing superhero film ahead of Captain America, X-Men: First Class, and The Green Lantern. Captain America is $10 million behind where Thor was in its 2nd weekend and about $70 million behind its overall gross. At the beginning of the Summer I predicted that Captain America would suffer from superhero fatigue and I wasn’t completely correct on that. It still should earn enough to surpass X-Men and The Green Lantern. Marvel obviously rules this summer. Next summer will be interesting when we have The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight Rises (I think the latter will take it in a landslide).

4) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II (3rd Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $21.93 million

As expected the final Harry Potter film has had some pretty significant declines since its record-breaking opening weekend. It dropped over 50% once again this weekend as it settles around $20 million. It’s decline should become less gradual now and it should still be able to surpass Transformers 3 to become the highest grossing movie of the year. Give it two more weeks.

5) Crazy, Stupid, Love (Opening)
ESTIMATE: $19.3 million

This movie had a less impressive opening than The Smurfs and Cowboys & Aliens, but that by no means makes it a failure. Romantic comedies tend to have more legs than action movies and family films as their audience skews older. I predict that in three weeks this movie will be ahead of both the films it opened against. Maybe two weeks.

6) Friends With Benefits (2nd Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $9.3 million

This film earned just enough to get back its budget in domestic gross. I suspect many people were more hesitant about this film because its premise is so familiar, but according to Davin it is definitely worth a look.

7) Horrible Bosses (4th Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $7.1 million

Comedies are actually doing quite well this year with several of them among the highest grossing of the year and this film set to break $100 million in a week. I dream of a day when comedies are given the same budgets as mindless action films except the money is put towards inspired scripts rather than explosions.

8) Transformers: Dark of the Moon (5th Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $5.97 million

With a $337 million cumulative gross this is still the film to beat this year. I am proud to say that I may be one of the only people in America who hasn’t seen this film and I have absolutely no regrets, unlike the millions of people who did see it.

9) Zookeeper (4th Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $4.2 million

When will somebody give poor Kevin James a movie that is decent? He’s a solid comedian and his characters are almost always likeable, yet just about every film he’s been in has been drivel. He needs to get connected with Alexander Payne or Richard Curtis.

10) Cars 2 (6th Weekend)
ESTIMATE: $2.3 million

Pixar may not win the Oscar this year, but once again they will have the highest grossing animated film. Good for them.

Box Office estimates are provided by Box Office Mojo.

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