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Weekend Predictions: Can Cowboys Overtake Captain?

July 28th, 2011

Summer is starting to wind down and while there are no sure-fire monster hits opening from now until November, there are still a few more potential $100 million hits coming out before we can close the book on the summer. Cowboys and Aliens is one of these films, and while it is clearly the biggest new release of the week, it still has competition from Captain America: The First Avenger during its opening weekend. On the high end, the film could earn more than the combined openings of last year's three wide releases. Even on the low end, it should have no trouble topping last year's number one film. This should help 2011 win over 2010 for the third week in a row, which is enough to be considered a streak.

The box office prospects for Cowboys and Aliens appear to be peaking at just the right time and a lot of analysts are expecting the film to finish on the high end of earlier expectations. This is a movie that could be a cool blend of two widely disparate genre, or a confused mess. The critics are leaning towards the later, although a Tomatometer score of 43% positive is hardly terrible for a summer blockbuster. The advertising has been appealing to moviegoers and it's a very good bet that it will end with more than the $80 million figure originally predicted. On the high end, it could come close to $50 million over the next three days. On the low end, it could struggle to reach $30 million. I'm going with a $42 million opening and safely over $100 million in total.

Captain America: The First Avenger could remain in top spot, if it holds on better than expected and Cowboys and Aliens misses expectations. Its midweek numbers suggests the Fanboy Effect will overpower its reviews and a 50% drop-off is likely, but it could be close. Look for $32 million over the weekend and about $120 million in total. If it can catch up to Thor, then the studio should be quite happy, but its international potential could be more limited.

After shattering records last weekend, the bad kind, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is looking to bounce back this weekend. I can't imagine it would suffer a similar decline two weeks in a row; in fact, there are some predicting it will avoid a 50% drop-off this weekend. I'm not that bullish, but it could score third place with $22 million. That will be enough to push its running tally past $300 million domestically and $900 million worldwide.

The second wide release of the week is The Smurfs, a film that was undoubtedly given the green light after the success of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Unfortunately, there are a few reasons why this film won't match it at the box office. Firstly, it doesn't have as good of a release date. Opening a family film during the Christmas holiday is one of the best recipes for financial success, while this late into summer there have been too many releases aimed at the same target demographic. Secondly, in addition to the two Alvin films, Hop recently came out, and how many similar films can the market handle? Finally, its reviews are simply terrible. Granted, kids normally don't read reviews, but the advertising is also going after adults looking for nostalgia that they can share with their kids. If these people are unsold, the film could have real trouble. It still might battle for second place with close to $30 million. On the other hand, it might miss $20 million. I'm going with fourth place with $21 million, but I'm not that confident in my prediction.

The best-reviewed wide release of the week is Crazy, Stupid, Love. Unfortunately, it is also tracking the weakest. It will likely place fifth with about $16 million, but this is not a terrible start for two reasons. Firstly, as already stated, its reviews are very good. Secondly, it is aimed at a more mature target audience, which means they are less likely to rush out to see the movie opening weekend, but more likely to see it during the following weeks. Assuming it didn't cost an outrageous amount to make, it should do well enough to keep the studio happy. There's even a chance it will surprise and compete for third place with just over $20 million. I'm a little more optimistic than most, and I'm going with $18 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Smurfs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, Cowboys and Aliens, Captain America: The First Avenger, Crazy, Stupid, Love