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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimate by MuthaSmurfin’ Klady

The perceived surprise success of The Smurfs and the perceived mediocre number for Cowboys & Aliens is a little silly.

One really has nothing to do with the other… except that we have all become idiot monkeys, obsessing on what’s first… a stat that is nothing but a bragging rights thing.

Smurfs, which should have a much stronger Saturday than Cowboys, should win the weekend easily. Sometimes funny things happen. But historically, if the kids film wins Friday, the toughest day of the weekend for kids movies, it’s a lock to win the weekend. Could be anywhere from $40m – $50m.

Cowboys & Aliens created its own stench. It’s classic movie advertising… find something and stick with it. The problem here is, that same 2 minutes we have been seeing for 7 months now was never that exciting. Elements are Daniel Craig with an alien shooter on his hand, a pretty girl, some spaceships, and a cranky Harrison Ford. The only notion of story offered is that Craig doesn’t know who he is and that the town will be attacked by aliens.

No sell.

It’s funny… because it all feels like Super 8 without the kids… and it will open right above Super 8, not quite the smallest big movie of the summer… but close. The difference is that Par sold 8 as being cheap and the critics rallied behind the film to spin it into seeming like less of a box office disappointment. C&A will be piled on, unless somehow it wins the weekend, and people get distracted by the “who’s #1?” discussion.

Crazy. Stupid. Love. is opening okay. Good reviews suggest it could have legs with adults. But it will likely be under $20m for the weekend and under $70m total, making it the #5 comedy of the summer so far.

Potter passes $300m and is now in a race with Transformers 3 for the summer box office crown. Neither film is likely to pass $350m domestic, much less $400m. Both Potter is still likely heading over $1b, while Tr3 may come up just short of that magic figure, while still being the biggest of the series.

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37 Responses to “Friday Estimate by MuthaSmurfin’ Klady”

  1. The Pope says:

    Just thought I’d copy and paste this from La Finke before she takes it down. It may be the only time this millennium it happens…

    “SATURDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: (Mea Culpa: Not a good idea for me to stay up all night doing box office. I get tired and transpose figures. Here are the corrected numbers.)”

    Is that an admission or an apology. Or has she deliberately reached for the Latin so as not to apologize but only admit responsibility?

  2. Bob Burns says:

    Potter goes to $370M. It’s tracking that far above HP6 in the same time frame and HP6 made over $300M before it closed.

  3. David Poland says:

    I was staying out of it, Pope… but she still seemed a bit confused as she was apologizing, using a Friday number as a full-weekend estimate. (She’s fixed the new mistake now.)

    I dislike the woman and all that she stands for, but perhaps she is on some kind of med that is messing with her. We shouldn’t take any pleasure in that. I hope she feels better soon. And then develops a soul.

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, mea freakin’ culpa: Looks like I was wrong about Cowboys & Aliens.

  5. Michael. says:

    This is a spade, not a spoon. Potter is 100% passing $1b global and near certain to reach $350m domestic.

  6. bulldog68 says:

    Did you review C&A Joe? Was looking for it on your website.

  7. Jason says:

    I didn’t think Cowboys would be that huge, but I didn’t think it would be this low. I know we need to wait to see how it performs this week and next weekend, but could $100M DM be in doubt? On the flip side, if we consider this more like a western than a big-budget sci-fi, it is a great opening for a western, where $100M DM is about the ceiling.

  8. movieman says:

    I’m not sure how either “Potter 7 1/2” and “Trannies 3” can miss hitting $350-million domestically.
    Of course, I was also convinced “Cars 2” would reach $200-million, and–unless Disney pulls another rabbit out of its hat (which would hardly be unprecedented considering their history)–that’s beginning to seem unlikely.
    Close, but no “Tangled.” (Does that read as weird as when I typed it?)
    I liked the “Cowboys,” but the “Aliens” didn’t quite work for me. Not even sure at this point whether it’ll hit $100-million. WOM should be lukewarm-ish at best.
    That’s a decent opening for “CSL,” and I still think it’s going to be one of the leggiest summer releases. Unlike “C&A,” (adult) audiences who come out to see it are almost sure to spread encouraging WOM to family/friends.
    And it looks like another obnoxious kiddie movie franchise (“Chipmunks,” “Yogi,” ad nauseam) has been hatched.
    Good for Sony’s bottom line; bad for anyone over the age of 7.

  9. Rob says:

    I feel like I’ve been wathcing the same 2 minutes of cowboys and aliens since late last summer after they went to comic-con. Dave is right. There was no sell. A year ago the reaction was “oh cool idea, can’t wait to see/learn more” and we never did. It didn’t help that the trailer seemed to play everytime I went to a movie the last 6 months. Instead of creating excitement it was something I “had” to sit through.

  10. For what it’s worth, I had the opposite problem with the C&A campaign. I loved the teaser from last November, but was less and less impressed with each new trailer. And yes, those additional trailers were basically the same footage recut. IMO, Universal should have just gone with the terrific teaser and kept a certain amount of ‘mystery’. Same thing with The Island back in 05. Dynamite teaser, but each successive thrill-spilling trailer impressed me less and

    For those who care –

  11. Telemachos says:

    Since Potter will pass $1b WW either Sunday or Monday, it’s not merely “likely” to do so, it’s guaranteed. Past that, it’s likely that it’ll pass ROTK for highest non-Cameron film of all time (worldwide).

    I don’t see how Smurfs gets even close to a $50m weekend off a $13m Friday. Even if it exploded on Saturday it wouldn’t be able to do it. High-30s seems reasonable, with an outside shot at low-40s. And lastly, I doubt C&A beats S8’s opening with that Friday number. It’ll likely fall slightly today and would need a Saturday boost AND an extremely good Sun hold to do so.

    Agreed that the marketing on C&A never seemed to shift out of first gear.

  12. JS Partisan says:

    Why are we fucking shocked Universal can’t sell a movie? Seriously? Universal remains ridiculously lucky to have one franchise with the Fast films. Everything else they do is literally the two left feet of movie making, and thus explains why they couldn’t sell C&A worth a damn.

  13. Geoff says:

    Cowboys & Aliens did underperform, but honestly….Universal did the best with what they had. It was a stylish, distinctive campaign – they were treading a fine line with the subject matter, had to give the movie an aura or credibility. They had Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford looking iconic, “From the director of Iron Man,” and just sold the shit out of those elements. What else were they were supposed to do?

    It’s not that unprecendented….True Grit had about a six month campaign using the same iconic footage again and again….and again. Remember “Your…..eye?” Paramount did the same thing with Shutter Island – if you have a few marketable elements, beat them to death. But this is really what separates Paramount from the other studios – they know how to sell harder and more effectively than any one else with questionable properties.

    Giver Universal this much credit: they probably won’t lose as much money on C&A as they did on Scott Pilgrim. Which was an AWFUL campaign.

  14. Krillian says:

    In April I thought for sure C&A would be one of the hits of summer, and Smurfs would bomb. I agree to a degree with Scott. The teaser was cool way back when, but the closer we got, the selling elements never really stepped it up. Do the cowboys never get with the Indians to take on the aliens?

    But Smurfs prove that like Yogi Bear and GI Joe, anything from the 1970’s/1980’s can be recycled. Hence Voltron and Captain Planet getting greenlit. Waiting for Rainbow Brite to happen.

  15. Chel says:

    C&A is 7 out of 10 which a solid matine movie. I actually liked that they showed only about first 15 minutes in the trailer so given the mixed genre I had no idea what to expect afterwards. Most trailers give out so much of the plot with typically predictable endings that you can pretty much predict the whole movie based on the trailer. Trailers most of the time are either too revealing or misleading. (see Avatar trailer).

  16. LexG says:


    Dominic Cooper is fucking PLAINVIEW-LEVEL INSANELY AWESOME, a total revelation and easily the best male performance of 2011 so far… I can’t parse those numbers, I never understand limited per-screen stuff, but it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. IT RULES. RULES. RULES.

    Also: I liked Cowboys & Aliens more than just about any of the big-dick action movies this summer (excepting TF3)… Craig and Ford in great form, and I enjoyed the Western tropes and thought it was Favreau’s best movie visually (not counting the visual of young K-Stew in Zathura.)

  17. LYT says:

    Cowboys and Aliens clearly didn’t want to ruin the surprise of what the aliens looked like in the marketing (echoing Super 8 in yet another way, perhaps).

    Had they revealed them in quick TV spots, fans might have cried spoilers and complained about trailers that show everything…but would it have led to a better gross?

    I don’t know the answer; would like to hear thoughts on it. My inkling is that trailers which spoil too much often get more butts in seats, but the Nolan Bat-films contradict that.

  18. JKill says:

    I’m by no means an expert on limited releases but considering that THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE had an opening day that was, well, double what RABBIT HOLE did on its opening day on the exact same number of screens, I think it’s doing at least okay to pretty good by Lionsgate limited release standards.

    I only did this analysis because its success now means I get to possibly see it theatrically. It also basically matched SARAH’S KEY from last weekend, which was considered a “speciality” success, so I think it’s actually doing fine. I love the TDD’s trailer

  19. Martin S says:

    Dave’s right to cite the length of marketing time. Seven months is too damn long for an original property. If this thing opened in May with Thor, the numbers would have been huge. But anything after Trannies and Cap feels like you’re not trying to play for a big week even though C&A was originally one of the summer Bigs. Now, they have to hope not to lose to Apes.

  20. Steven Kaye says:

    So Midnight in Paris increased its box office by 52.7% from Thursday to Friday, despite losing 150 theatres, and dropped two places even though there were three new releases. Plus it looks like we can add Bad Teacher to its tally of victims. More later.

  21. LexG says:

    Thanks for the update, Rain Man.

    I know everyone else has pointed this out, and I know Kaye is a possible autist, but how is “Bad Teacher” or “Fast Five” or “X-Men” or anything else one of “Midnight’s” VICTIMS??? They all made a shitload more than MiP.

    What is this guy’s STORY? If you google his name plus Woody Allen in quotes, he’s on EVERY blog and on the LA Times site doing this nonstop there, too… It’s creepy.

  22. JS Partisan says:

    Geoff in what fairy tale world do you have to live in, where you think Scott Pilgrim costs as much as Cowboys and Aliens? Seriously, what freaking world?

  23. Ryan says:

    The mistake was the title of the property. It got laughs every time I saw it play and that trailer played for 7 months. Bad idea….. and let’s not forget one thing, the movie on a critical level was bad. Finally there was never a shot in the trailer that made you think you needed to see the movie, and thats what a movie in this genre needs. By keeping the plot so secret and refraining from showing footage past the first 40 minutes, the movie felt cheap and un-event like. If you are going to make this work you need more than Daniel when I am not Bond my movies make no money Craig jumping on a generic space craft shot to sell people. They never had a good marketing campaign on why this was a cool movie to see, and sold the elements of the production team when this time the ‘names’ didn’t deliver. The campaign went for the prestige and the reviews say differently.

  24. LexG says:

    You guys are needlessly harsh; A 35-plus opener isn’t that bad, and the movie works. Ease up.

    It’s certainly a better movie than Captain America.

  25. JKill says:

    For some reason I’m imagining Steven Kaye flat on a sofa crossing off the titles of movies MIDNIGHT IN PARIS beats on that week’s box office charts with a tube of lipstick, and then messily applying said lipstick to his face while the sweet sounds of ELO float through his living room a la Buscemi in BILLY MADISION…

  26. JS Partisan says:

    Oh go watch the Devil’s Double again. You dislike Captain America for your own weird fetish reasons! SHAMEFUL! DOWNRIGHT SHAMEFUL!

  27. LexG says:

    Not to mention, Midnight in Paris, delightful as it is, is MINOR WOODMAN.

    JS, I didn’t dislike Cap. I liked long stretches of it, like the aw-shucks cornpone thing… I just thought it was uneven, sometimes sluggish, a bit of an eyesore with its drab lighting… and that the ending was a cold downer.

  28. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah it’s a downer of an ending. That’s the point. Hopefully Haley will come back as Sharon and everything will work out swell for CAPTAIN AMERICA!

  29. JKill says:

    The other thing about COWBOYS AND ALIENS, which I plan to see tomorrow, is that the western element might make it initially attract older audiences so there was less of a weekend rush, and that the presence of Craig and especially Ford will probably pump it up at the foreign box office. I think it’ll be fine, and this crossing off a movie one day into its release is sort of insane and depressing. Plus, the late summer hits tend to open smaller and pay longer, unlike the movies released earlier in the season which tend to be the reverse.

    I also think RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is going to be way bigger than most are expecting.

  30. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I called it a flop at the teaser release. Not many others did. In fact no one. I regain my reign at top prognosticator after my disastrous collapse following CARS2.

    There’s was always something a bit rotten and soulless about Cowboys and Aliens. I was never impressed with any of the marketing or fan adulation. It felt unwarranted completely. It looked like Laserblast with A list actors running around a western set on one of the lots. I really hope the “well you asked for original Hollywood films and then you don’t turn up” brigade start with that standard line of retaliation.

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    We interrupt the movie talk with this word that the fecal matter may be about to hit the oscillating device.

  32. LYT says:

    Cowboys and Aliens isn’t remotely original, of course. Like so much else this year, it’s based on a comic (albeit very loosely, from what I hear; haven’t read the thing. Has anyone?)

  33. David Poland says:

    I hate the movie… different post.

    But they had little to add to the sales pitch. No one wants a mean Harrison Ford. The aliens were done 2 years ago in District 9. Craig never really wakes up.

    All they really could have done was to give up the last action sequence.

    And it wouldn’t have ruined the movie, because the movie is so frickin’ dumb.

  34. anghus says:

    I thought Crazy, Stupid, Love was by far the best movie i’ve seen this year. Perfectly cast, well written, subtle direction, awesome soundtrack.

    You know it’s been a strange year when were in the middle of the Summer and the 3 best films that come to mind are Bridesmaids, Crazy Stupid Love, and Midnight in Paris.

  35. Joe Leydon says:

    Not that anyone really cares anymore… but I notice that, according to the film’s website, The Undefeated now is playing in just four markets.

  36. jesse says:

    anghus, no: Crazy Stupid Love, while well-cast and well-performed and even reasonably well-directed for being kind of stupid, is not well-written at all. It’s Sensitive Sitcom, where every character keeps going “really?!” and “seriously?!” like that’s automatically hilarious and relatable. The Stone/Gosling stuff manages to transcend the weak writing and really, really work. The rest… fits and starts.

    I mean (SPOILER?), a big climactic speech? In the words of half the movie characters out there this summer, “seriously?!”

  37. Paul8148 says:

    Crazy Stupid Love is a Sitcom Comedy Movie, Meaning Charthers doing crazy stupid things no one would do in real life and wacky “shocking” twist you can see if you a mile away (Ok the Tomai Charter twist was a geniue suprise.). But it is a well made, well actored sitcom comedy movie.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon