Cowboys & Aliens is a pitch that was bought by the studios long before it was ever a graphic novel, and was even figured as a follow up for the Nutty Professor II director to tackle after that triumphant sequel was finished. It sat for a long time until the publishing of the graphic novel finally lit a fire under a proposed production starring Robert Downey, Jr.
I would be willing to say that version would have been notably better, as Daniel Craig plays the stoic cowboy too well as the movie around him is pretty much devoid of interest. That could be because a dozen+ years and a dozen+ writers have muddied the painting until it turned into a colorless brown tapesty- having stripped out the anti-gravity-horseshoed flying horses and such. This is an example of Hollywood innocently whistling while they use their foot to nudge a profoundly silly concept into movie theaters, doing so by grounding it in reality and presenting it as a straightforward blockbuster. They’ve done too good of a job though, and in a summer with Norse gods, wizards, robots and star-spangled superheroes keeping things colorful, they seem to have desaturated this one past the point of being noticed. So a film bearing Spielberg and Ron Howard’s names, that stars James Bond and Indiana Jones, and has the “from the director of Iron Man” title plastered all over it will barely break $40m, if that. That will be better than several alien flicks this year (Battle: LA, Super 8), but it was made with a pretty heavy budget and a pedigree that sets much higher expectations.
With aliens quickly becoming the new zombies (tired!), maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
Our other two new openers (all of which are discussed in the new CHUD Video) should find themselves scattered among the top 5, with the branded kiddie flick doing solid business in the mid-20s. Those live action-CGI hybrids tend to do pretty well, especially if they’ve got a nostalgia angle for the parents. Since Smurfs is infinitely more tolerable than the Chipmunks films, I foresee it doing pretty well.
Crazy Stupid Love should see pretty standard rom-com numbers, as the overly mature tone of the ads will be slightly balanced out by Carrell’s comedy reach. It won’t make the fluffy Date Night numbers, but it should do just under $20m, putting it in league with things like Friend With Benefits. That mature tone and more adult look at love and dating may give it a shot at the longer play as well.
The summer is waning, and more interesting movies are on the horizon. In fact, it’s already starting this weekend, with the 7-city opening of Attack the Block– the film’s first opportunity to turn major geek buzz into actual dollars. Lots of fingers are crossed for it, and I would suggest that if it is anywhere near you, don’t hesitate to skip the big releases and enjoy some real alien mayhem.
We’ll meet up Monday morning (or Sunday night, if I’m feeling frisky).
Come back Sunday to wonder what the fuck I was thinking with me.