Box Office Update: 'Smurfs' is No. 1 Pic in North America, 'Cowboys' Falls to No. 2

2:10 PM PST 08/04/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Sony Pictures

'Smurfs' has grossed $51.1 million, compared to $48.4 million for 'Cowboys.'

In one of the most riveting box office contests of the summer, Sony’s surprise hit The Smurfs has overtaken Universal/DreamWorks’ Cowboys & Aliens.

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

Through Wednesday, Smurfs’ domestic gross was $51.1 million, compared to $48.4 million for Jon Faverau's Cowboys.

Last weekend, Smurfs did far more business than anyone expected, opening to $35.6 million, and nearly beating Cowboys, which grossed a tepid $36.4 million. While Cowboys ended up with the weekend crown, Smurfs is the midweek winner, however, coming in No. 1 every day.

STORY: 'The Smurfs' Reviews: What Critics Say

The strength of the 3D pic is a big win for Sony, and bolsters the studio’s animation business.

Bob Osher, president of Sony Pictures Digital Prods., said Smurfs—a CGI/live-action hybrid—is traditional storytelling at its best.

“It’s really an all-audience film. Everyone likes a tale well told, and the Smurfs traditionally have a good message,” Osher said in an interview form Europe, where the pic will roll out in earnest this weekend.

FILM REVIEW: Cowboys & Aliens

Smurfs has sizeable potential overseas, considering the characters were created by Belgian cartoonist Peyo. Last weekend, the movie opened in several  territories to a stellar $4.1 million, including a notable $3.5 million debut in Spain.

This weekend, Smurfs rolls in 29 foreign markets, including Beglium, France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico.

“When we had the Belgian premiere, 6,000 people turned out. Even the royals came,” Osher said. 

Domestically, Smurfs should remain a strong player in its second frame, although 20th Century Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes is expected to open at No. 1.

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