The Jon Favreau-directed “Cowboys” grossed $36.4 million over the weekend, according to Universal, while Sony says “Smurfs” took in $35.6 million.
Sony is hardly blue over the narrow defeat, however, since its film out-performed pre-release forecasts that were in the $25 million-$30 million range.
“Cowboys,” meanwhile, missed pre-release projections in the $40 million-$45 million range.
When it’s all said and done, Cowboys & Aliens will be remembered as a bit of a box-office flop. Fair or unfair?
Hybrid Westerns have not fared well in the past (Wild Wild West, Jonah Hex, The Warrior’s Way), but Cowboys & Aliens had other troubles. While Monsters Vs. Aliensworked, Cowboys‘ premise came off as contrived in its marketing, like a creatively bankrupt movie executive randomly combining genres in a bid for the next big thing, and left both the Western and alien invasion components wanting.
Despite some of the worst reviews of the year, The Smurfs actually did better than I thought it would.
Sony’s Smurfs marketing was formulaic, aping Alvin and the Chipmunks and others, but it hit the genre beats many seem to enjoy. It’s a formula that works more often than not. Add in brand recognition, and Smurfs scored the tenth best-attended start ever for a talking critter picture.