SMURF! The Smurfing Smurfs tie Cowboys & Aliens
By John Hamann
July 31, 2011
Thankfully, The Smurfs didn't open to the level that Alvin and The Chipmunks did at Christmas in 2007 ($44.3 million), but that weekend was devoid of competition, as The Golden Compass was busy falling on its ass, and the aging Enchanted was picking up only $5 million that weekend. This weekend, the pie is smaller, with Potter, The Zookeeper, and even Captain America getting in the way. The Smurfs does well versus the talking animal pictures, staying ahead of films like Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($29.3 million), Bolt ($26 million) and Doctor Doolittle ($29 million). It opens on the same level as Hop ($37.5 million) and Rio ($39 million), but stays well away from any Pixar opening weekend, even Cars 2 ($66 million). Whatever happens with the rest of the run for The Smurfs, I am already dreading what is now a known known – a Smurfquel (and there goes my breakfast).
Tying for the top spot is Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens (shouldn't it be versus?). Always a wild card at the box office, Cowboys under-performed, as the Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford action flick earned $36.2 million this weekend from 3,750 venues. It had a venue average of $9.653. The marketing for Cowboys was never really ripe, as it failed to give a clear indication of what we were actually going to see in this picture. Flying space ships that fired lasers made it look like it was going to be cowboy genocide, but I have a feeling that's not what happens. Critics ended up as confused as I am (go ahead Smurf fans, make your jokes), as they were split pretty much down the middle. Rotten Tomatoes counted 140 reviews for Cowboys, and of those, only 62 were positive, leaving the $130 million film with a fresh rating of only 44%, a long way away from the 94% fresh rating that Iron Man received. Cowboys and Aliens was expensive to make at $130 million, but I expect it to get to $100 million stateside, and surmise that it will pick up a similar amount overseas, especially with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig on display. This won't be a Universal disaster, but unfortunately it will limit and threaten fresh thought and originality in the summer movie season, as the thoughtless Smurfs embody all that is wrong with filmmaking today.
Finishing third is Captain America, but even its gross is a bit of a shock. After getting started with a very strong $65 million last weekend, some thought the good Captain might hold up this weekend. Instead, the film plunges like every superhero movie seems to have done so far this summer. This weekend, Captain America took in $24.9 million, dropping a severe 62%. It's not the 70%+ drop that Harry Potter saw last weekend, or the 66% drop that the awful Green Lantern saw, but it has to be considered worse than expected. Captain America is not a sequel, but it saw a bigger drop than X-Men: First Class (56%) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (52%). It got good reviews, so this is not a quality problem. The issue hearkens back to the "one and done" summer movie season, where the next big thing is always right there, this time the combo of those damn Smurfs and Cowboys and Aliens. The First Avenger does cross the $100 million mark in very quick time, as it hit the mark on Saturday, only its eighth day of release. The $140 million pic will have no problem recouping the budget stateside, and is only out to a handful of territories overseas so far. Captain America has put $116.8 million in the bank for Paramount, and will likely finish with about $175 million or so.