Box Office Update: 'Smurfs' Gaining on 'Cowboys & Aliens'

 Sony Pictures

Jon Favreau’s big-budget Cowboys & Aliens ended up in a relatively close race with Sony’s 3D kids pic The Smurfs for the Friday crown, and possibly the weekend.

Observers say Cowboys and Smurfs both looked to gross $13 million to $13.5 million for the day, with Cowboys -- from DreamWorks and Universal -- falling short of reaching its projected $15 million opening day take. 

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Cowboys may now gross roughly $38 million for the weekend, less than expected. If Smurfs continues to do overperform, it could come close to the $38 million mark as well.

Coming in No. 3 at the domestic box office on Friday was Paramount and Marvel’s holdover Captain America: The First Avenger, which was on track to gross $7.5 million for the day and roughly $25 million for the weekend.

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The third new film of the weekend, Warner Bros.’ Steve Carell-Ryan Gosling comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love got off to a solid start, likely grossing $6.5 million on Friday and $18 million or $19 million for the weekend.

Cowboys, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, couldn’t have better pedigree. Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks oversaw production and co-financed the $163 million pic with Universal and Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment also produced the film.

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But original stories are always a risk, not to mention mixing the Western and sci-fi genres. Westerns generally draw older moviegoers, and Cowboys has indeed been tracking best among males over 25, followed by males under 25, who are Favreau and sci-fi fans.

Cowboys grossed a soft $700,000 in midnight runs Thursday night, suggesting that younger fanboys weren’t rushing to see the film.

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Earlier this summer, Super 8 grossed $13.1 million on its first Friday, along with $1 million in special sneaks the previous 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 price tags. J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 reportedly cost $55 million to make. DreamWorks financed half of Cowboys’ pricey $163 million budget, while Universal and Relativity Media each put up 25%.

Smurfs cost $110 million to produce.

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