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Weekend Wrap-Up: Cowboys Win Close Race

August 1st, 2011

It was a very, very close race for top spot at box office this weekend with the top two films separated by less than $1 million. In the end, it was Cowboys and Aliens that came out on top, even though it finished on the low end of predictions. However, with The Smurfs earning much more than expected, the overall box office take was a surprisingly brisk $180 million. This was still 6% lower than last weekend, but more importantly, 24% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2011 has brought in $6.42 billion, or about 6% less than last year's pace. With a little luck, 2011 will be able to close that gap a bit more before the end of summer.

Expectations for Cowboys and Aliens swung wildly over the past week or so with earlier predictions in the mid $20 million range, while at the end of last week they were closer to $50 million. In the end, it opened in first place with $36.43 million over the weekend. Interestingly, the film's best day over the weekend was Saturday, not Friday, which suggests the movie might not be as front-loaded as a many genre films are. The reviews are neither good not terrible, and there's a slim chance the film could reach $100 million by the end of its run. After all, there's not a whole lot of competition for the rest of Summer. On the other hand, this movie cost way too much to make, so unless it is a bigger hit internationally, it won't show a profit any time soon.

The Smurfs earned more than the high end of expectations with $35.61 million over the weekend, and if this results in a live-action Snorks movie, there will be hell to pay. In reality, there's already talk of two more films in this franchise, so while most critics were not happy with the movie, the studio obviously is. I'm not sure this is a wise move, as this film cost more than $100 million to make, so unless it is an even bigger hit internationally, or the merchandising turns out to be very lucrative, it won't make a profit until deep in its home market run. The latter is more likely than the former.

Captain America: The First Avenger fell more than 60% to $25.55 million over the weekend for a total of $117.42 million after two. It has fallen below Thor's pace, despite having the benefit of midweek numbers, but, it is still on pace to make more than enough to be considered a financial success, and that's before we take into account increased comic book / merchandise sales.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 reached $300 million with $21.98 million over the weekend giving it a total of $318.51 million after three weeks of release. It just managed to overtake The Philosopher's Stone as the biggest hit in the franchise, although it does have a decade of inflation to help it along. Meanwhile, worldwide the film became just the ninth film to reach $1 billion, but more on that on Wednesday.

Crazy, Stupid, Love opened on the high end of expectations with $19.10 million. Add in very impressive reviews, a more mature target demographic, and it could have strong legs. Matching its production budget domestically is a relatively easy goal to aim for after this debut, while finishing with more than $75 million is not out of the question.

Friends with Benefits was the only member of the sophomore class to not remain in the top five, and it wasn't able to hold on as well as expected. Given its target demographic, its genre, and its reviews, it should have held on well. However, it fell just over 50% to $9.28 million over the weekend for a total of $38.18 million after two. Getting to $60 million is likely out of reach, but matching original expectations is doable.


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