Box Office Report: Jon Favreau's 'Cowboys & Aliens' Eyeing $36-$43 Million Opening

1:49 PM PST 07/29/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Universal

The high-concept pic, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, comes from DreamWorks and Universal.

Jon Favreau’s big-budget Cowboys & Aliens is looking at an opening weekend gross of $36 million to $43 million, and will need young males to turn out in force if it’s to hit the high end.

Based on tracking, most thought the DreamWorks and Universal pic would open in the $45 million range. Universal itself said low 40s to mid 40s.

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According to very early estimates, Cowboys — starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford — should gross $14 million to $16 million on Friday. The pic earned a soft $700,000 in 1,200 midnight runs, a sign that younger fanboys didn’t turn out.

That’s not a huge surprise, considering Westerns generally appeal to an older audience, even if Cowboys movie is just as much of a sci-fi pic (Favreau likes to call his film a genre mash-up). Older males are the most interested in seeing the unique, high-concept film, but tracking was also relatively strong among males under the age of 25. Whether the tracking was misleading remains to be seen.

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Cowboys is performing roughly 12 percent ahead of Paramount’s Super 8, also an original event film.

Super 8 grossed $13.1 million on its first Friday (including $500,000 in midnight shows), along with $1 million in special sneaks the pervious Thursday night. Super 8 went on to post an opening weekend gross of $36.5 million.

The big difference between the two movies is their cost. J.J. AbramsSuper 8 reportedly cost $55 million to make, while Cowboys cost $163 million after tax rebates.

DreamWorks financed half of the budget, while Universal and Relativity Media each put up 25 percent.
 

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