Smurfs and Cowboys & Aliens Tie with $36.2 Million

The Smurfs and Cowboys & Aliens did battle at the North American box office and came away in a dead heat with $36.2 million a piece based on studio estimates. The other box office newcomer, Crazy, Stupid, Love, fired mostly blanks for TV-turned-movie actor Steve Carell.

Through Friday it was looking like The Smurfs had the inside track on topping the weekend with $13.4 million versus $13 million for Cowboys & Aliens. Family films tend to see an uptick in business on Saturdays, but Universal’s genre mash-up topped Sony’s nostalgic little blue critters by $13.1 million to $12.7 million. That flip-flop set up the dead heat through Sunday.

These numbers are just studio estimates with final numbers coming a little later today. The Smurfs remains the favorite to eek out the win, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if either film came out on top. Word of mouth could end up being the deciding factor.

Universal was hoping Cowboys & Aliens would become a blockbuster which clearly it will not. A big star-studded Comic-Con premiere did little to boost business, while a marketing plan that played up a serious tone likely kept away casual moviegoers who might have been interested in a western or an alien film, but not both. Expect Cowboys & Aliens to get a big home video push when it comes to Blu-ray and DVD in November or December.

Crazy, Stupid, Love starring Steve Carell failed to take third or fourth place, instead coming in fifth in its debut weekend with $19.3 million. That total is well behind the $25 million and up premieres the R-rated comedies have been enjoying throughout the summer, as well as Carell’s Dinner for Schmucks last summer ($23.5 million) and Date Night last spring ($25.2 million).

Third place went to Captain America: The First Avenger which tacked on an additional $24.9 million to its running total of $116.8 million. Thor was at $119.5 million at the same point in its theatrical life-cycle adding fuel to the chances that Marvel will soon green light Captain America 2 with an official release date.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 continues to pile up the dough with another $19.3 million added to its coffers. Potter’s domestic total now stands at $318.5 million, making it the top-grossing film in the franchise in North America in passing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone $317.6 million. Worldwide, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has crossed the one billion mark with $1,008,460,000 in total ticket sales.

Sixth through tenth place came in much lower than the top 5 starting with Friends with Benefits making $9.3 million in its second weekend. Its total now stands at $38.2 million. Horrible Bosses is on the verge of topping $100 million after adding $7.1 million to bring its total to $96.2 million.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon earned another $6 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its total to $337.9 million. Zookeeper took ninth place with $4.2 million and should finish its theatrical run around the $80 million mark, while Pixar/Disney’s Cars 2 is running on empty at the box office with $2.3 million.

Next weekend, another R-rated comedy hopes to over-perform in the form of The Change-Up, while Fox hopes to reboot a venerable franchise with the prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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