Like Super 8, there was speculation and box office armchair quarterbacking about Cowboys and Aliens, which wasn’t based on a previous movie, TV show, or video game, and how it would potentially perform at the box office.
While the initial reviews that came in were very promising, both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter gave it similar good notices, Cowboys and Aliens may now be hoping someone will be riding to its rescue.
In fact, what was most interesting to see was that it came in at a dead tie at the box office against The Smurfs, of all things, which didn’t get good reviews.
Admittedly, my box office deductive reasoning isn’t very good, but this is the first time I can recall in God knows how long when a movie came in a tie for the top.
The report on Deadline was headlined "Too close to call," but if Cowboys come out on top, to use the horse race analogy, it’s sure to be by a nose.
In her report, Nikki Finke writes, "What is crystal clear is that Smurfs is overperforming way beyond expectations while Cowboys and Aliens is way behind expectations to the point of tanking."
What I can estimate is that when blame flies around, some of it may point to keeping much of the film secret until right before its release, which I don’t think is a bad thing, and like with Super 8, it wasn’t clear what the movie was exactly, although I would think the title, Cowboys and Aliens, wouldn’t be too hard to figure out.
On Friday night, Box Office Mojo reported Cowboys opened on about 5,600 screens, with The Smurfs showing on 5,400, with over 2,000 in 3D. The Daily Beast called Cowboys and Aliens "a cinematic odd duck," and "Hollywood’s riskiest summer movie." Even Daniel Craig told the L.A. Times, "I’m not sure anyone knows what to make of this movie."
On opening eve, Mojo’s Brandon Gray wrote, "On paper, an action spectacle directed by Jon Favreau, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, co-written by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Roci, produced by Ron Howard and executive-produced by Steven Spielberg teams with box office potneial. But Cowboys and Aliens has struggled…most ads have made [it] look like a half-baked Western and a half-baked alien-invastion movie shoe-horned together."
If Cowboys and Aliens does in fact flop, it’s definitely a blow against original movies and ideas in Hollywood, even if it’s still a high concept, potential blockbuster flick that should have been fun to try out.
Update: Reports are surfacing that Cowboys and Aliens did in fact beat the Smurfs at the box office, with a gross of $36.4 million, against The Smurfs $35.6 million. This is way under Universal’s projections and tracking, as the studio predicted Cowboys and Aliens would open in the $42-$45 million range, but it clearly came in at way less.