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Weekend Box Office: Cowboys & Aliens, Smurfs Duel for Top Spot

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By Chris Kavan - 08/01/11 at 01:00 AM CT

In a somewhat surprising outcome, it could be anyone's guess as to whether Cowboys & Aliens can outdraw The Smurfs for the top spot come final Monday's final tally. As it stands, both films sit at an estimated $36.2 million for the opening weekend. It looks good for one film, not so hot for the other.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a crap shoot all around. At an estimated $163 million budget, Cowboys & Aliens will open with sub-par numbers no matter where it ends up. While the opening is comparable to Super 8 and Battle: Los Angeles, at a summer blockbuster it comes in woefully short. I, for one, was disappointed in the film. It didn't come off as either a western or much of a sci-fi film - more like a lot of action with a dash of the other genres thrown in. It didn't help that Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford seemed to be vying for "least emotional human in a leading role" award.

On the other hand I find it sad and disturbing that The Smurfs might come away with the top spot. I'm not a fan of Hollywood messing with my childhood memories, and this film seems an especially egregious effort to do just that. With 45% of grosses coming from 3D, it beat out comparable films G-Force and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Not surprisingly, the majority of the audience for the film was parents and their children (65% and 25% respectively).

Captain America: The First Avenger held on to the third spot, but took the worst week-to-week drop with a 62% hit. The $24.9 million lands it with a $116.7 million total, but it feel behind Thor's pace, which had $119.5 million during the same time frame. I still have yet to see the patriotic hero, but I will get around to it in the coming weeks. Hey, at least it's not entering Green Lantern territory.

Despite a pretty steep 53% drop, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2 became the highest-grossing film in the franchise over the weekend. Adding another $21.9 million to the total, it now stands at $318.4 million (beating out Sorcerer's Stone's $317.6 million). It also became the first Potter film to cross the $1 billion global mark. Even though its decline was steeper than previous Potter films in the third week, expect it to pass Transformers: Dark of the Moon to become the highest-grossing film of the year in the coming weeks.

Another new entry, Crazy, Stupid, Love entered the box office in fifth place. The Steve Carrell-led ensemble comedy posted a decent $19.3 million, which looks great compared to Larry Crowne and The Dilemma, but couldn't match up with Carrell's Dinner for Schmucks, which opened with $23.5 million. It looks the target audience for this film was the female crowd, who made up 64% of the audience.

Horrible Bosses edged ever closer to the $100 million mark, making it all the way to $96.2 million with a seventh-place $.7.1 million showing. It also had the lowest drop in audience out of any film in the top ten, losing just 40.3% from last week.

For the time being, Transformers: Dark of the Moon will hold on to its top-grossing status. The eight-place film took in nearly $6 million and now stands at $337.8 million. While I still consider this film to be better than the sequel, I don't think it will be able to hold off Potter for top earner of the year.

Next week introduces two new films that will try to shake up the box office: another R-rated comedy will try to make it big when Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds team up for The Change-Up. In a movie sure to screw up an already wonky continuity, Rise of the Planet of the Apes with James Franco, Frieda Pinto, Andy Serkis and Brian Cox (amongst others) will try to craft a decent origin story. We'll see if either one can impress audiences.

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