Box Office Update: 'Cowboys & Aliens' Pulls Ahead of 'Smurfs'

 Zade Rosenthal/Universal Studios and DreamWorks II

In a race that riveted Hollywood into the early hours of Monday, Cowboy & Aliens has pulled ahead of dark horse The Smurfs to win the weekend box office race.

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On Sunday, Sony put Smurfs’ projected weekend at gross at $36.2 million—identical to the estimated gross of DreamWorks and Universal’s Cowboys.

Both films dropped roughly 23% on Sunday, making the race impossible to call Sunday evening. Rival studios showed both films grossing roughly $35.6 million.

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But by midday Monday, Universal put Cowboys' opening at $36.4 million, compared to $35.6 million for Smurfs. Box office insiders said there was a problem with reporting for some AMC theaters, explaining why Cowboys' number can in higher than expected.

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While that’s a win for Jon Favreau’s Cowboys, Smurfs is still the big victor of the weekend.

Heading into the weekend, Cowboys was the clear frontrunner. Based on tracking, Universal said the big-budget pic should open in the $42 million to $45 million range.

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Smurfs, predicted to earn $25 million to $30 million, far exceeded expectations in its box office debut.

Cowboys, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, cost $163 million to produce after rebates, while Smurfs cost $110 million.

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