Box Office Preview: 'Cowboys & Aliens' Gallops Into Theaters

6:06 PM PST 07/28/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Universal

"Crazy, Stupid, Love" and kids pic "The Smurfs" also open nationwide.

It’s an understatement to say there’s something for everyone at the domestic box office this weekend, especially if you live on either coast.

Three films open nationwide: big-budget tentpole Cowboys & Aliens, PG-13 comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love and 3D kids pic The Smurfs. Ten independent films open in limited runs in New York or  L.A., including Attack the Block, The Devil's Double, The Future and The Guard.

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Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, is widely expected to win the weekend with an opening north of $40 million. DreamWorks and Universal are partners on the Western/sci-fi hybrid, which cost $163 million to make after tax rebates.

Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks oversaw production on the movie, with Spielberg serving as executive producer. Favreau has been promoting the movie 24/7, including a barrage of events at Comic-Con last weekend, and guest directing an edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live this week.

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Universal is releasing Cowboys in North America, while Paramount is distributing the movie overseas. DreamWorks, Universal and Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media financed the pic.

Comparisons are difficult, considering Cowboys’ unique marriage of genres. Earlier this summer, Paramount’s original pic Super 8, directed by J.J.  Abrams and produced by Spielberg opened to $35.5 million, although that movie cost far less to make.

Cowboys is tracking best among males, although interest has picked up among older women in recent days. Males over 25 are the strongest demo, followed by their younger brethren, according to tracking. The film is receiving mixed reviews overall.

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Conversely, Warner Bros.' Crazy, Stupid, Love --- pairing Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling -- should play best to female audiences. Also starring Emma Stone and Julianne Moore, the film is expected to open in the high teens.

Box office observers will be watching closely to see whether the impressive winning streak of R-rated comedies this summer will extend to a PG-13 comedy. Some box office observers believe Crazy Love movie has a shot at crossing $20 million in its opening weekend.

In Crazy Love, Carell’s character, facing divorce, becomes the wingman to a 30-plus player (Gosling). Soon however, the player finds himself unexpectedly falling in love, while Carell’s character discovers it’s not so easy to change his ways.

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Sony’s The Smurfs is the latest CGI/live-action hybrid to hit the big screen. Costing $110 million to produce, the kids pic should gross in the mid-$20 million range.

Based on the comic books and wildly popular 1980s television show, The Smurfs stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria. The voice cast is led by Jonathan Winters, Kate Perry and Anton Yelchin.

Sony believes the kids movie will have strong legs throughout August.

There's also several strong holdovers, including Paramount and Marvel Studios' Captain America: The First Avenger, which opened to $65.1 million last weekend and could beat Smurfs for No. 2.

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At the specialty box office, Sony/Screen Gems opens British pic Attack the Block -- also an alien pic, but based in inner-city London -- in eight theaters. The film is a pickup for Screen Gems.

Lionsgate launches Dominic Cooper starrer Devil’s Double in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The film made waves at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year for Cooper’s performance as the body double for Saddam Hussien’s son.

Roadside Attractions also releases a Sundance title, The Future. The critically acclaimed film was directed and written by Miranda July, who also stars. It opens at the IFC Center in New York City.

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Comedy-thriller The Guard, from Sony Pictures Classics, was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, and stars Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

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