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BULLSEYE, July 29: 'Cowboys,' 'Smurfs,' 'Love,' 'Apes,' More

Which movies are audiences actually going to see this weekend?

Smurfs, cowboys, love, aliens, devils, sleepovers, guards, attacks, interrupters and the future -- rarely have moviegoers had so many new choices on a single weekend. But the July 29 frame is full of both studio spectacle and indie eclecticism.

 

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Universal and DreamWorks will let Cowboys & Aliens ride against Warner Bros.' romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love and Sony's The Smurfs for the biggest chunks of the box office. Cowboys is the most interesting question mark. The Flixster Bullseye shows C&A galloping in with sizable but not enormous interest from men, but it doesn't look to be shaping up to open as big as Marvel/Paramount's superhero pictures Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. I think the film's mystery could work in its favor, though, and draw genre fans curious about the execution of its high-concept premise. My sense is that it will open bigger than most outlets' predictions (which have been in the $40 million range).

The Steve Carell-Julianne Moore-Emma Stone-Ryan Gosling comedy is playing extremely well with young women, who have been known to drive summer films into unexpectedly major hit territory. If it ends up drawing guys, too, this could be a surprising success with real legs. The Smurfs doesn't look too inspired, but the little blue creatures sure are cute, and that's usually all that really matters with young kids (witness Yogi Bear and Alvin and the Chipmunks).

STORY: Box Office Preview: 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Aims to Continue Summer Boom

Universal's The Change-Up, which hits theaters August 5, is clearly benefitting from Ryan Reynolds' appeal to women, who have the most intense interest in the comedy at the moment. Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes also opens that weekend and has a definite female problem -- right now it looks like older men who have a connection to the original Apes movies are most interested. But that's all.

The August 10 release The Help looks like it needs help. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, 30 Minutes or Less and Final Destination 5 open August 12, and two weeks out it's the hostage comedy with Danny McBride and Jesse Eisenberg that's looking good.

Check out Pamela McClintock's box office preview for additional analysis.