Box Office Results for July 29, 2011

This weekend, in a stunning development, two studios estimated the exact same opening weekend gross for their new big-budget summer films making for a tie for the number one spot at the North American box office.  Sony Animation’s 3D kidpic The Smurfs performed well above expectations while Universal and DreamWorksaction entry Cowboys & Aliens failed to meet its projected target.  Each studio estimated a $36.2M weekend gross.

Chart positions are more about bragging rights though and do not necessarily reflect a film’s financial success.  Regardless of the final ranking, The Smurfs proved it was the true winner thanks to a smaller budget, larger per-theater average, better exit polls, and no major profit participants.  Sony Animation’s PG-rated family film bowed in 3,395 theaters with a strong $10,663 average.  Based on the popular 1980s cartoon series, the story of the little blue people that find themselves in modern-day New York City was backed by an extensive and highly effective marketing push that truly made it an event film for parents and kids alike.

It follows recent hits from the brand-based live-action/animation genre like Warner Bros.Yogi Bear from last winter, which grossed over $100M and Alvin and the Chipmunks and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel from Fox 2000 and New Regency that each topped $200M.  None of these films impressed film critics, but were embraced by families looking to have some mindless fun together.  A third Chipmunks is on tap for this December.

The Smurfs won opening day Friday with $13.4M beating the $13M of Cowboys & Aliens.  Saturday told a different story with Cowboys & Aliens leading with $13.1M (up 1%) while The Smurfs slipped 5% to $12.7M.  For Sunday, The Smurfs dropped an estimated 20% while Cowboys & Aliens dropped 22%.  Production budgets were $110M for The Smurfs and a much higher $163M for Cowboys & Aliens, plus tens of millions more in marketing.

Papa Smurf and company scored an encouraging A- grade from CinemaScore and with no major competitors taking away families over the next two weeks, the film is well-positioned to become SONY’s top-grossing film of 2011 to date.  As with most extra-dimensional movies these days, audiences preferred 2D over 3D as 45% of the weekend take ($16.3M) came from the 3D screens.  35% of the crowd was non-family so the brand successfully reached beyond kids and parents to connect with some teens and young adults, which certainly helped in generating the large gross.

Also hauling in $36.2M from the wallets of ticket buyers this weekend was Cowboys & Aliens, which averaged $9,655 from 3,750 locations.  The PG-13 film starring Daniel Craig and Academy Award Nominee Harrison Ford was directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau and was expected to debut in the $40-50M range.  Hollywood has always found it difficult to mix westerns with sci-fi as audiences do not readily buy into the result.  Reviews were more negative than positive, which hurt since the film was always expected to skew older.  Also the late July slot presented challenges since Cowboys & Aliens was the eleventh action movie released this summer.  Though based on a popular graphic novel, Cowboys & Aliens was not connected to a property known widely enough to make it into a must-see for a sizable audience as Captain America: The First Avenger did last weekend.

Cowboys & Aliens performed much like another period sci-fi film produced by Academy Award Nominated Producer Steven Spielberg this summer, Super 8, which debuted to $35.5M in early June and also played to an older crowd.  The pricey Craig-Ford vehicle drew an audience that was 63% 30 and older and 53% male.  A CinemaScore grade of B does not bode too well for the future.  With Universal, DreamWorks, Reliance, Relativity, Imagine, K/O Paper Products, Fairview, and Platinum all involved in the worldwide financing and distribution (and Paramount distributing overseas), Cowboys & Aliens had a lot of chefs in the kitchen.  A glitzy star-studded premiere last week at Comic-Con was well-received by that crowd, but did little to excite audiences across the 50 states.

Following its stellar debut, Captain America: The First Avenger fell sharply in its second weekend tumbling 62% to an estimated $24.9M bringing the ten-day sum to $116.8M.  Fellow summer super hero flicks Thor and X-Men: First Class fared better in their second rounds dropping by 47% and 56%, respectively.  Green Lantern tumbled by 66%.  With the upfront fan base out of the way and more action titles to come like this Friday’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes from 20th Century Fox, Captain America: The First Avenger could be on course to end its domestic run in the $170M area.  The Paramount release had its first major launch overseas this weekend with an estimated $48.5M from 31 territories, 30 of which were new.  Totals now stand at $53.5M international and $170.3M global for Marvel’s third entry of the season.

It was a monumental weekend for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which shattered the $300M domestic and $1B worldwide marks.  In North America, the final wizard flick fell 54% to an estimated $21.9M boosting the 17-day cume to $318.5M.  That makes it the top-grossing Harry Potter film ever surpassing the $317.6M of the first installment from 2001.  Higher ticket prices and 3D surcharges led to the new franchise record, but the Hogwarts clan will take it.  The domestic trajectory seems to be heading to the vicinity of $370M.

Overseas, brought in a hearty $66.4M this weekend, down 48%, lifting the international haul to $690M and the worldwide gross to date to a mammoth $1.008B.  With the powerful Chinese market to open this Thursday, the epic finale should easily surpass $1.2B and could even reach $1.3B making it the top-grossing blockbuster of all time not from Academy Award Winning Producer/Director James Cameron.

A trio of comedies followed all the big action flicks.  The divorce romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. debuted in fifth place with respectable numbers grossing an estimated $19.3M from 3,020 theaters for a $6,391 average.  Starring Steve Carell, Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling, Academy Award Nominee Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Academy Award Winner Marisa Tomei, and Kevin Bacon, the PG-13 film played to a mature audience and skewed female.  Reviews were mostly good for the story of a man trying to reinvent himself in the single world after his wife of 25 years leaves him.  The opening was about even with the $18.6M debut of last weekend’s relationship comedy Friends With Benefits, which boasted younger stars and an R rating.  Crazy, Stupid, Love. scored a B+ grade from CinemaScore, which was good but not terrific and also opened below Carell’s live-action comedies from last year – 20th Century Fox’s Date Night ($25.2M) and Paramount, DreamWorks, and SpyglassDinner for Schmucks ($23.5M).

The Screen Gems and Castle Rock film Friends With Benefits dropped 50% to an estimated $9.3M while the New Line hit Horrible Bosses was the only holdover in the top ten to lose less than half of its audience slipping only 40% to an estimated $7.1M.  Totals stand at a decent $38.2M for the Justin TimberlakeMila Kunis pic and a sturdy $96.2M for the Jason Bateman flick, which will hit $100M by Friday, the same day his next comedy The Change-Up opens.

The global juggernaut Transformers: Dark of the Moon followed with an estimated $6M, off 51%, raising Paramount and Hasbro’s domestic haul to $337.9M putting it at number 19 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of Columbia and Marvel’s Spider-Man 3 with $336.5M from 2007.  Of course, the third webslinger had lower ticket prices and no 3D surcharges.  Transformers: Dark of the Moon continued its loud assault around the world with an estimated $42M haul overseas lifting the international tally to a stellar $645M making the global gross soar to $982.9M.  The film finally opened in Japan – its last major territory – taking in $9.5M with a very high 82% from the 3D screens.  But China remains the leader with $22.8M in its second weekend boosting the local cume to an eye-popping $113.7M making it the second biggest U.S. film of all-time there after 20th Century Fox’s AvatarTransformers: Dark of the Moon will shatter the $1B mark in the coming days joining Walt Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in the billion-dollar V.I.P. lounge.  All three are effects-driven 3D action sequels.


The Kevin James comedy Zookeeper fell 52% to an estimated $4.2M putting Columbia and MGM’s total at $68.7M.  Pixar rounded out the top ten with Cars 2, which collected an estimated $2.3M, down a steep 59%, giving the toon sequel $182.1M to date.  The 3D pix will end Pixar’s streak of nine consecutive $200M+ domestic grossers and will sell the fewest tickets of any of the company’s dozen films.


It was a fragmented frame in the specialty marketplace with a handful of films generating solid debuts, though none stood out as astonishing.  The offbeat drama The Future from Roadside Attractions bowed to $28,185 from one solo New York house.  The Brendan Gleeson and Academy Award Nominee Don Cheadle blackmail comedy The Guard took in an estimated $80,000 from four sites for a $20,100 average for Sony Classics.  Both earned strong reviews.


Critics were mixed on the Uday Hussein pic The Devil’s Double from Lionsgate, which bowed in five theaters to an estimated $95,000 averaging $19,000 per location.  Screen Gems released the well-received British sci-fi pic Attack the Block and saw a $130,000 opening from eight playdates for a $16,306 average.


The top ten films grossed an estimated $167.4M, which was up 30% from last year when Warner Bros. Pictures’ Inception remained in the top spot for a third time with $27.5M; and up 56% from 2009 when Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Apatow Productions, and Madison 23 ProductionsFunny People debuted at number one with $22.7M.


July 29, 2011 to July 31, 2011 Top Ten



1.   The Smurfs

  • $36,200,000
  • Sony Pictures Animation (Sony)

1.   Cowboys & Aliens

  • $36,200,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBC Universal), DreamWorks Pictures (DreamWorks SKG), and Reliance Entertainment

3.   Captain America: The First Avenger

  • $24,905,000
  • a Paramount release (Viacom)
  • Marvel Studios (Disney)

4.   Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

  • $21,925,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

5.   Crazy, Stupid, Love.

  • $19,300,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

6.   Friends With Benefits

  • $9,300,000
  • Screen Gems (Sony) and Castle Rock Entertainment (Time Warner)

7.   Horrible Bosses

  • $7,100,000
  • New Line Cinema (Time Warner)

8.   Transformers: Dark of the Moon

  • $5,970,000
  • Paramount Pictures (Viacom) and Hasbro

9.   Zookeeper

10. Cars 2

  • $2,301,000
  • Pixar Animation Studios (Disney)


July 30, 2010 to August 1, 2010 Top Ten



1.   Inception

  • $27,485,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

2.   Dinner for Schmucks

  • $23,528,000
  • Paramount Pictures (Viacom), DreamWorks Pictures (DreamWorks SKG), and Spyglass Entertainment

3.   Salt

  • $19,471,000
  • Columbia Pictures (Sony)

4.   Despicable Me

5.   Charlie St. Cloud

  • $12,382,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBC Universal)

6.   Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

  • $12,279,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

7.   Toy Story 3

  • $5,123,000
  • Pixar Animation Studios (Disney)

8.   Grown Ups

  • $4,548,000
  • Columbia Pictures (Sony) and Happy Madison Productions

9.   The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

  • $4,466,000
  • Walt Disney Pictures (Disney) and Jerry Bruckheimer Films

10. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


July 31, 2009 to August 2, 2009 Top Ten



1.   Funny People

  • $22,658,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBC Universal), Columbia Pictures (Sony), Apatow Productions, and Madison 23 Productions

2.   Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • $17,909,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

3.   G-Force

  • $17,515,000
  • Walt Disney Pictures (Disney) and Jerry Bruckheimer Films

4.   The Ugly Truth

5.   Aliens in the Attic

6.   Orphan

7.   Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

8.   The Hangover

  • $5,194,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

9.   The Proposal

10. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

  • $4,688,000
  • DreamWorks Pictures (Viacom) and Hasbro

~ by Matt Whitfield on August 2, 2011.

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