‘Cowboys’ and ‘Smurfs’ Battle to Tie for Week’s No. 1 Film

Universal Pictures’ “Cowboys & Aliens” tied with Sony Corp. (6758)’s “The Smurfs” as the top movie in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, each with $36.2 million in ticket sales.

Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s “Crazy Stupid Love” with Steve Carell collected $19 million to open in fifth place, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“The Smurfs” is the fourth film from Sony to finish atop the rankings so far this year, following “The Green Hornet,” “Battle: Los Angeles” and “Just Go With It.” “Cowboys & Aliens” had been expected to open in first place and is the third offering from Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal division to debut as No. 1.

The tie is “a shocker,” with “Smurfs” exceeding expectations and “Cowboys & Aliens” underperforming amid “reviews that were certainly mixed at best,” said Gitesh Pandya, chief executive officer of Boxofficeguru.com in an interview. “For an older, male-skewing film like ‘Cowboys,’ reviews matter.”

The movie, directed by Jon Favreau and based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, was poorly received by critics. Of 132 reviews compiled by Rottentomatoes.com, 74 were negative.

Spielberg Production

“Cowboys & Aliens,” features Daniel Craig as an Old West gunman who battles space invaders. Craig’s character, Jake Lonergan, leads a posse of ranchers and outlaws in a fight against aliens who attacked their town and abducted several residents. They are aided in the fight by a highly advanced weapon shackled to Lonergan’s wrist. Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde co-star.

The movie was co-produced by Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG and Relativity Media LLC.

Combining live action and computer-generated effects, “The Smurfs” stars Neil Patrick Harris as a New Yorker who helps the tiny, blue creatures after they are forced from their village by an evil wizard. The picture is based on characters from the late cartoonist Pierre Culliford.

Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com credits the film’s opening success to effective promotion by the studio. “They did a lot of out-of-the-box marketing to make it a summer event film for kids,” he said. The movie also “has a retro-chic appeal to it.”

Unprecedented Tie

The box office “tug-of-war” between “Cowboys” and “Smurfs” will be decided tomorrow when the studios release their final weekend sales totals, said Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com. “A tie is unprecedented,” he said.

Last weekend’s leader, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” slipped to third place with sales of $24.9 million, while “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” the final installment in the films based on J.K. Rowling’s novels, was fourth with sales of $21.9 million.

The latest Harry Potter movie, the eighth in the series, has taken in more than $1 billion in global ticket sales and is the top-grossing film in the history of the Warner Bros. studio, according to a statement today by Time Warner.

In Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Stupid Love,” Carell is a straight-laced family man whose life unravels after he discovers that his wife has cheated on him. A younger man, played by Ryan Gosling, guides him through a world of singles bars and flirting women.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 25 percent to $170 million from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. Domestic box-office sales this year have declined 5.6 percent, while attendance is down 6.5 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for July 29-30 and estimates for today.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 COWBOYS & ALIENS     $36.2   3,750   $9,655   --    $36.2   1
1 THE SMURFS            36.2   3,395   10,665   --     36.2   1
3 CAPTAIN AMERICA       24.9   3,715    6,704   -62   116.8   2
4 HARRY POTTER DEATHLY  21.9   4,145    5,290   -54   318.5   3
5 CRAZY, STUPID LOVE    19.3   3,020    6,391   --     19.3   1
6 FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS  9.3   2,926    3,178   -50    38.2   2
7 HORRIBLE BOSSES        7.1   2,510    2,829   -40    96.2   4
8 TRANSFORMERS: DARK     6.0   2,604    2,293   -50   337.9   5
9 ZOOKEEPER              4.2   2,418    1,737   -52    68.7   4
10 CARS 2                2.3   1,763    1,305   -59   182.1   6
11 WINNIE THE POOH       1.8   1,632    1,073   -66    22.4   3
12 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS     1.2     471    2,590   -32    46.9  11


Top 12 Films Grosses:

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $170.4        $136.1      25.2


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $6,419.1      $6,796.6     -5.55


Year-to-date Attendance:      -6.5%



To contact the reporters on this story:
Michael White in Los Angeles at 
mwhite8@bloomberg.net or Janet Lorin in New York  jlorin@bloomberg.net.


To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Anthony Palazzo at 
apalazzo@bloomberg.net



Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.