By Sarah Sluis
Cowboys & Aliens was hailed by many critics as the rare sci-fi/western genre mash-up that worked. Audiences turned out, but the $36 million fell short of the $40+ million the studio had hoped for. On the bright side, over 63% of audiences were over 30, a demographic that often sees movies weeks after their release. The $160+ million film will have to hold well at the box office to recoup its blockbuster budget.
I put the live-action/CG hybrid The Smurfs in the same category as Alvin and the Chipmunks and Yogi Bear. Critics called the movies stupid and terrible, but parents shrugged their shoulders and indulged their children in the lowbrow fun. More audiences than predicted turned out to see the blue cartoon characters in their very own movie, giving The Smurfs an estimated $35.6 million opening weekend, just under Cowboys & Aliens. Other kid-friendly titles in the top ten fell heavily (50-70%) due to the animated competition. Even Harry Potter "7B," as it's nicknamed on movie marquees, barely leveled its fall, diving another 53% to $21.9 million.
The intergenerational romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love landed in fifth place with $19.3 million. The variety of ages paid off: 71% of audiences were over the age of 25, which also bodes well for coming weeks. The opening is below Carell's summer pic from last year, Dinner for Schmucks, but far ahead of this summer's flop Larry Crowne, which also targeted an older audience.
This week was a busy one for specialty releases. Actor/writer/director Miranda July's The Future, which premiered on just one screen, had the highest screen average, $28,000. Sony Pictures Classics' crime drama The Guard followed, with a $20,000 average on four screens. A couple of big studios went with smaller releases for their films, and succeeded in drawing audiences. Lionsgate's Scarface-styled treatment of Uday Hussein, The Devil's Double, did admirably, using five screens to accumulate a $19,000 per-screen average. Screen Gems' Attack the Block, a would-be cult horror comedy, averaged $16,000 on eight screens. The two latter ones should expand in coming weeks and will be films to watch.
This Friday, the R-rated Freaky Friday-style comedy The Change-Up will release, along with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.