Weekend Box Office: ‘Smurfs’ Shocker

How is that the worst-looking movie of the year – a family flick that mixes CG blue cartoon characters with live action – and an over-hyped genre-blender could finish the weekend in a dismal tie? Until the final numbers come in this afternoon, we won’t know who the true winner is.

Weekend estimates reported by the studios point to a tie between Jon Favreau’s first film since the ‘Iron Man’ movies, ‘Cowboys & Aliens‘, and the part CG/part live-action version of the classic cartoon series ‘The Smurfs‘. Both films’ studios have reported estimated weekend earnings of $36.2 million. While the estimate is right on track with predictions for ‘Cowboys & Aliens’, ‘The Smurfs’ earned over $7 million more than expected.

Considering that ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ teasers began running over a year ago, you might expect the alien invasion twist on the Wild West theme to be a creatively successful mix. But a soft $36 million opening for a large summer blockbuster is underwhelming.

Although ‘The Smurfs’ has apparently tied with ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ in the way of box office revenue, its attendance was less than that of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’. ‘Cowboys’ opened only on 2D screens, while ‘The Smurfs’ had the advantage of inflated 3D ticket prices to increase its weekend total. (Had ‘The Smurfs’ won in attendance too, I might have lost a lot of respect for America’s general audiences.) It’s estimated that 45% of ‘Smurf’ revenue resulted from 3D ticket prices. The 3D audience percentage is still down from the beginning of summer, but not as low as it has been for movies such as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ or ‘Cars 2’ which topped out at 40%.

Despite being the only new movie certified “fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.‘ opened in the #5 spot with only $19.3 million. While ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ also opened right on track with predictions, this weekend’s openers sure didn’t generate much steam.

Four of the five limited indie ttiles opened strong this weekend. ‘Attack the Block‘ opened with $130,000 on eight screens, ‘The Devil’s Double‘ earned $95,000 on five screens, ‘The Guard‘ brought in $80,400 on four screens, and ‘The Future‘ made $28,200 on one screen. Surprisingly, Nat Geo’s documentary ‘Life in a Day‘ only made $89,500 on 11 screens.

Poor ‘Captain America: The First Avenger‘ dropped over 61% from its opening weekend. But with such a strong week-one opening, the movie is now only $24 million away from matching its budget. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘ fell another 53%, but is already the highest-grossing of all eight ‘Potter’ flicks after only 17 days in theaters. Within its first 15 days, ‘Part 2’ became the fastest film to gross $900 million worldwide – beating previous record-holder ‘Avatar’. It’s only a matter of time before the final ‘Potter’ flick hits $1 billion worldwide.

Top 10:

1. ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ (Universal) – $36,200,000

1. ‘The Smurfs’ (Sony) – $36,200,000

3. ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (Paramount) – $24,905,000

4. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ (Warner Bros.) – $21,925,000

5. ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’. (Warner Bros.) – $19,300,000

6. ‘Friends with Benefits’ (Screen Gems) – $9,300,000

7. ‘Horrible Bosses’ (Warner Bros./New Line) – $7,100,000

8. ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ (Paramount/DreamWorks) – $5,970,000

9. ‘Zookeeper’ (Sony) – $4,200,000

10. ‘Cars 2’ (Buena Vista) – $2,301,000


  1. Jane Morgan

    Jon Favreau deserves to lose to ‘The Smurfs.’

    ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ should have been made by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.

  2. Deaditelord

    You would think after the Yogi 3D live action-CG disaster audiences would have learned. Such is the power of children.

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