Cowboys and Aliens expectations at the box office were fairly high this weekend. Since it had cowboys, aliens, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, the director of Iron Man at the helm and premiered at Comic-Con, the geeks were bound to come out in forces. Yet early numbers are telling another story, as the sci-fi/western hybrid could be on the verge of a humiliating defeat to The Smurfs, to go along with its mixed/disappointed reviews.
According to Deadline Hollywood, although it made more on Friday, it is now projected to lose the No. 1 spot for the weekend. Despite expecting to make $40 million to $45 million or more at first, the film is now pegged to make $13 million on Friday, and just less than $37 million for the weekend, while The Smurfs rises to the $40 million mark.
Critics are bound to have mixed feelings since they gave low scores to the early favorite but panned The Smurfs even more. However, it serves as the biggest proof yet that a catchy title doesn’t guarantee box office success, even with big budget summer mash-ups.
The likes of Snakes on a Plane and Hot Tub Time Machine got a lot of early buzz because of their name, but few went to see the movies themselves. Things were supposed to be different in this case, yet despite the much publicized team-ups of cowboys and aliens, and Craig and Ford, it seems everyone is feeling letdown.
The bad reviews alone couldn’t have done it, especially since scores were so much worse for The Smurfs. However, that movie was at least based on a popular animated show, and had an established fan base- along with higher 3D prices. The fan bases for Westerns and sci-fi may not be as powerful, while Craig hasn’t proven his drawing power beyond the James Bond movies, and Ford doesn’t guarantee high grosses anymore.
Making $35 million to $40 million still shouldn’t qualify as a bomb opening, yet it certainly will if these numbers hold. In fact, it would classify as the biggest bomb since last month’s Green Lantern, which became a disappointment despite grossing over $50 million on opening weekend and starting at No.1. But it also underperformed and was plagued by toxic reviews before long.
If that was dubbed by everyone as a box office bomb, the smaller opening and potential second-place finish of Cowboys and Aliens will look even worse. It appears that geeks and genre fans are pickier than studios expected, as they didn’t go to panned epics like this one and Green Lantern, while better alternatives like Captain America, Thor and Super 8 made out better this summer.
At the least, perhaps this will prove to studios that they can’t come up with a catchy title and call it a day. In fact, even having big stars, unlikely combatants and a summer tent pole doesn’t always seem to help out either.
Deadline Hollywood- “Cowboys and Aliens Edges Smurfs Friday But Won’t Win Weekend”