Cowboys vs Smurfs: Photo finish at the box office

Cowboys vs Smurfs: Photo finish at the box office

“Cowboys & Aliens” was supposed to win the weekend easily, but “Smurfs” puts up a fight.

In one of the biggest box office upsets in recent memory, Sony’s kids pic The Smurfs tied with DreamWorks/Universal’s Cowboys & Aliens for No. 1, with each pic claiming a $36.2 million opening. The winner won’t be decided until Monday morning.

Heading into the weekend, Cowboys held a wide lead over the competition, according to tracking. Universal itself believed the movie, directed by Jon Favreau, would open in the $40 million to $45 million range.

Smurfs, meanwhile, was only expected to open in the $25 million to $30 million range.

One trouble spot for Cowboys, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, was a tepid turnout by younger moviegoers. A full 75% of the audience was over the age of 25, and 39%, over the age of 50.

That was always a risk, considering the film is a blend of two genres: Westerns, which skew older, and sci-fi.

Cowboys, which received a B CinemaScore, 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.

The film’s financial success will depend upon good legs and a top performance overseas, where it is rolling out slowly.

Smurfs cost $110 million to produce, and is the latest entry in the CGI/live-action market. The pic received an A- CinemaScore, and A among moviegoers under the age of 18.

The Smurfs is the latest CGI/live-action hybrid to hit the big screen. Costing $110 million to produce, the kids pic should gross in the mid-$20 million range.

Based on the comic books and wildly popular 1980s television show, The Smurfs stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria. The voice cast is led by Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry and Anton Yelchin.

Sony believes Smurfs will have strong legs throughout August. The movie also is off to a strong start overseas, where it opened in Spain this weekend.

The weekend’s third new offering, Warner Bros.’ Steve Carell-Ryan Gosling comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love opened to $19.3 million for a No. 5 finish.

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