Box Office Preview: 'Cowboys' to outdraw 'Smurfs'

Associated Press
In this publicity image released by Universal Pictures, Harrison Ford, left, and Daniel Craig are shown in a scene from "Cowboys & Aliens." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Timothy White)
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In this publicity image released by Universal Pictures, Harrison Ford, left, and Daniel Craig are shown in a scene from "Cowboys & Aliens." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Timothy White)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mash-up "Cowboys & Aliens" will likely mean a smack-down for a superhero and some Smurfs this weekend, with the Universal/Dreamworks sci-fi/Western expected to open with a gross of between $40 million and $45 million at more than 3,700 theaters in North America.

Starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, directed by "Iron Man's" Jon Favreau, and with Steven Spielberg among its producers, this truly original film defies categorization and industry projections for its opening have varied. Yet awareness is very high for the film, which had its world premiere at Comic-Con this past weekend, and the fan-boy factor should carry it to victory, despite weak reviews.

A superhero vs. Smurf smack-down in the $30 million range is expected for the weekend's No. 2 spot as Paramount/Marvel's "Captain America: The First Avenger" tries to maintain some of last weekend's opening glory against PG newcomer "The Smurfs."

Starring Neil Patrick Harris, the Sony 3-D film based on the wildly popular Smurfs comic books and the 1980s animated TV series is the very definition of cute and should do well with family audiences.

"Captain America" debuted in first place last weekend with $65 million and has been a solid midweek warrior with more than $85 million deposited in "America's" treasury through Tuesday, its sixth day of release. The film should easily pass the $100 million mark in North America this weekend, when it also opens wide overseas.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" from Warner Bros. should maintain its money-making magic, placing fourth at about $20 million domestically and likely setting still another record on Saturday when it could cross the $1 billion mark internationally after just 16 days in release. This would beat "Avatar's" 17-day sprint to $1 billion in 2009 — with the usual help from ticket-price inflation, of course.

The debuting "Crazy Stupid Love" from Warner Bros. offers summer audiences something different: a PG-13 comedy in a season that's been dominated by no less than five R-rated comedies.

Featuring a strong ensemble cast that includes Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the date crowd will find much to love in this crazy mix of comedy and drama, giving it a not-so-stupid fifth-place gross approaching $18 million.

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Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Ofice Division of Hollywood.com and a box office analyst for The Associated Press.

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Online: www.Hollywood.com/boxoffice

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