Defying the warnings of critics and movie studios alike, families flocked to The Smurfs, drawn by the irresistible allure of a recognizable property that the whole brood could tolerate together in relative silence. By pandering to nostalgia while also offering a postmodern mockery of that nostalgia, the film landed right in the cynical sweet spot of so many CGI cartoon rehashes before it—a proven formula that managed to pay off the same dividends as the weekend’s other most calculated movie, Cowboys And Aliens. Both films tied for first place at $36.2 million (a number aided by The Smurfs’ inflated 3-D premium), which is an opening that any minute now will be celebrated with some sort of splashy, “Smurfs Agree: The Number Smurf Smurfing Movie In Smurfmerica” print ad. But it’s no doubt cause for consternation over at Universal, who just can’t seem to catch a break with their insanely expensive contrivances anymore.
Cowboys was meant to be that studio’s big summer blockbuster: It cost over $200 million, stars Indiana Jones and James Bond, is directed by the guy who made Iron Man, and boasts the sort of genre mash-up plot that audiences absolutely love—or so producers seem to be hoping, considering how many similar premises are currently in the works. Unfortunately, Olivia Wilde just wasn’t enough to bring in the young men (according to exit polling, 63 percent of Cowboys audiences were over 30), young women apparently thought the idea of cowboys fighting aliens was kind of stupid, and now the film is on track to be another flop contributing to Universal’s ongoing existential crisis.
The weekend’s other big opener, the romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, performed respectably given the season and its modest counter-programming aspirations, earning $19.3 million on around $3,300 screens to finish at fifth place behind Captain America and the stalwart Harry Potter. That’s not bad for a movie that mostly appeals to older women who like their poignant commentary on marriage and middle-aged love with a side of Ryan Gosling’s abs, and it’s definitely an improvement on the similarly targeted Larry Crowne from a few weeks ago.
There were also some strong numbers in limited release, with both the buzzed-about, Iraqi Scarface drama The Devil’s Double and Irish buddy-cop comedy The Guard pulling in around $20,000 per screen at just four and five theaters, respectively. However, the Ridley Scott-backed YouTube-created documentary Life In A Day managed only $4,136 per each of its 11 screens, suggesting audiences were turned off by a lack of narrative drive or keyboard-playing cats. And finally, Attack The Block scored $130,000 on just eight screens, a solid number that could grow if more audiences discover that it’s the alien invasion mash-up movie that actually remembers to be fun.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.