Written by Sarah

The winner is...


When Lainey asked me to write up the box office for the weekend that was with Cowboys and Aliens and The Smurfs, I said, “Sure,” but I was thinking, “How can I make this about Attack the Block?” Because everything is about Attack the Block right now. It’s the best movie of the summer.

It was an unusually close weekend at the box office, though, with three major releases gunning for box office receipts as the summer movie season enters its final stage and grosses begin to wane heading into fall. On the top of the heap, Cowboys and Aliens and The Smurfs duked it out for #1, inspiring a slew of “Cowboys get Smurfed” headlines from the trades. The estimates put the two movies in a dead heat and when the actuals came in on Monday afternoon that ended up being the case. Cowboys and Aliens won the top spot with $36.4 million and The Smurfs took in just $800 thousand less for $35.6 million. A difference of less than a million is no difference at all. So what does a de facto tie mean?

Well, for Cowboys and Aliens it means disappointment. With $163 million budget and a host of names to sell it (Cranky Ford, Daniel Craig and director Jon Favreau—“From the director of Iron Man” featured on all the posters), there’s no universe in which $36 million is an acceptable result, even if it did deliver #1. Heading into the summer movie season, I thought Cowboys and Aliens would be one of the biggest but it was not the movie I thought it would be at all. The primary culprit is a sh*t script and messy premise (how do you mess up cowboys AND aliens?!), but there’s been some grumbling that a lack of charismatic leads hurt promotions. Cranky Ford and Daniel Craig can’t sell? Maybe not. This is certainly a step backward for Craig, who is poised to become one of the top-earning actors in the world.

The Smurfs, on the other hand, are very happy with their $35 million. Where Cowboys and Aliens fell short of even their lowered expectations of $40 million, The Smurfs surpassed their expected $20 million. The budget is believed to be in $120 million range, which is still really big but not quite as intimidating as Cowboys and Aliens’ price tag. I texted Lainey on Saturday, commenting on the length of the line for The Smurfs. It was really long, which, given how terrible The Smurfs looks, completely depressed me.

Less depressing was Crazy, Stupid, Love coming in with a stronger-than-expected $19 million, proving that adults do still go to movies and that mid-budget, adult-oriented fare has a place in theaters. But the real winner is Attack the Block, which grossed more per screen than either of the top two. On the heels of this success Screen Gems is expanding into six additional markets this weekend. It’s worth checking out. Because haven’t you heard? It’s the best movie of the summer.

(Lainey: PS. If you like Attack the Block, why aren’t you watching Misfits!!??!!)