Forget all those expensive tracking studies and the forecasts of those know-it-all box-office gurus. Moviegoers simply didn't behave the way they were supposed to over the weekend. Cowboys & Aliens , which was expected to be an easy winner with around $45 million, wound up instead with $36.4 million. On the other hand, The Smurfs , which was projected to land in fourth place with around $25 million, came in close behind Cowboys with $35.6 million. The situation was reminiscent of the 2002 battle between Steven Spielberg's Minority Report and Disney's animated Lilo and Stitch . In that race, Minority Report finished with $35.7 million -- at the low end of expectations -- but the Disney feature, which was only expected to earn $20-25 million, wound up with $35.3 million, only $400,000 less than the Spielberg movie. Reporting on this weekend's results, the Los Angeles Times commented, "As much as the Hollywood studios love bragging rights, their priority is to avoid losing money on their big-budget bets. In the case of Cowboys & Aliens, making a profit will be a long shot."
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date) 1. Cowboys & Aliens , Universal, $36,431,290, (New); 2. The Smurfs, Sony Animation/Columbia, $35,611,637, (New); 3. Captain America The First Avenger , Paramount, $25,554,303, 2 Wks. ($117,421,571); 4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II , Warner Bros., $21,977,093, 3 Wks. ($318,511,602); 5. Crazy, Stupid, Love. , Warner Bros., $19,104,303, (New); 6. Friends With Benefits, Sony, $9,275,692, 2 Wks. ($38,175,973); 7. Horrible Bosses, Warner Bros., $7,189,365, 4 Wks. ($96,290,917); 8. Transformers Dark of the Moon , Paramount, $6,086,311, 5 Wks. ($338,007,725); 9. Zookeeper, Sony, $4,301,893, 4 Wks. ($68,832,733); 10. Cars 2, Disney/Pixar, $2,349,142, 6 Wks. ($182,118,690).