In this weekend's biggest box office surprise, a family movie about little blue creatures kept pace with an all-star thriller about giant evil creatures.
Both movies opened to $36.2 million in estimate weekend earnings—which was great news for "The Smurfs" but not such great news for "Cowboys & Aliens."
That's because "Cowboys" cost more than $50 million than "Smurfs" to produce, and it involved the efforts of a slew of major Hollywood talent, including Stephen Spielberg and Ron Howard as executive producers, "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau and stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.
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The fact that "Smurfs" got a 3-D release where "Cowboys" did not could account for some of its relative success, too. 3-D takings counted for almost half the movie's gross.
And according to E! Online, more than half the "Smurfs" audience consisted of parents with children.
"Cowboys," by contrast—a mash-up of classic Western tropes with alien attack themes—had trouble wooing young viewers, with 63 percent of its audience over the age of 30.
Neither movie fared particularly well among critics, though, although "Cowboys" had "Smurfs" narrowly beat among them.