Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 07-25-11

Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan in “Cowboys & Aliens”

Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan in “Cowboys & Aliens”

Steve Carell and Julianne Moore in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

Steve Carell and Julianne Moore in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

“The Smurfs” – In Theaters July 29th

“The Smurfs” – In Theaters July 29th

Feathered fish: Westerns and sci-fi have been popular genres since Hollywood’s silent movie days, but combined as they are in “Cowboys & Aliens” they make an odd hybrid.

Movie marketers call films like this a “feathered fish,” meaning they’re really not one thing or the other. Therefore, it’s hard for them to please anybody. For DreamWorks and Universal’s “Cowboys” to really work, western fans also have to like its sci-fi monsters and sci-fi fans also have to enjoy its Old West gunslingers.

Not surprisingly, “Cowboys” with its mature stars Daniel Craig (“Defiance”) and Harrison Ford (“Morning Glory”) is tracking best with over-25 males as their first choice film for this weekend. Unfortunately, under-25 males, who do a lot more moviegoing, are only half as enthusiastic about the film.

As for women, forget ‘em — I just mean as far as “Cowboys” goes! It’s barely on under-25 females’ first choice radar and over-25 females are only slightly more inclined to want to see it.

“Cowboys” is tracking for first choice the way “Super 8” was when it opened June 10 to $35.5 million. “Super 8” also was doing best with over-25 males, but its next strongest demo was over-25 females. That gave it broader playability than “Cowboys,” which is completely male (and, in fact, heavily older male) in its appeal.

Will “Cowboys” shoot down Paramount and Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: The First Avenger” to take over first place? It’s certainly looking much stronger than this weekend’s two other wide openings — Warner Bros. and Carousel Productions’ romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” starring Steve Carell (“Date Night”) and Ryan Gosling ("Lars and the Real Girl"), and Columbia’s 3D animated family comedy “The Smurfs” — but “Captain” could be strong holdover competition.

“Captain” came up in the tracking and out-performed expectations last weekend, opening to about $65 million. That plus a bigger than anticipated plunge of around 72 percent for Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” was all it took for “Captain” to finish number one.

If we’re looking for around $35 million for “Cowboys,” “Captain” would have to fall no more than 46 percent to hold on to its crown with, say, $35.5 million. These days, that would be an unusually low second weekend drop, so the odds appear to favor “Cowboy.” On the other hand, “Captain” opened like Paramount and Marvel’s “Thor,” which arrived May 6 to $65.7 million. In its second weekend “Thor” fell 47 percent and held on to first place with $34.7 million — so who knows?

The other thing that could throw a monkey wrench at “Cowboys” would be if “Hallows 2” were to hold up incredibly well in its third weekend. It did about $48 million last weekend, so to gross $36 million this weekend it can’t slide more than 25 percent. Well, nothing’s impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

“Cowboy,” by the way, is tracking about twice as well as “Crazy.” Unlike this summer’s hit comedies about boys and girls behaving badly — “Bridesmaids,” “The Hangover, Part 2,” “Bad Teacher,” “Horrible Bosses” and “Friends With Benefits” — “Crazy” is a tamer PG-13. The others were all rated R for raunchy, which is what audiences clearly are going for this summer.

“Crazy” is tracking now in the high single digits as a first choice for under-25 females and could come up a bit more by the weekend. Over-25 females are less than half as eager to see it and it’s barely anywhere with males under or over-25.

Of course, teen girls have been known to drag their boyfriends — or husbands in the case of young adult females — to see films they really want to see. And fangirls often turn up in packs for films on their must-see list. If Warners gets lucky, under-25 females will go crazy for “Crazy.”

“Smurfs’” first choice tracking is only slightly better than “Crazy’s.” It’s a moms-taking-kids kind of movie and, as you’d expect, it’s tracking best with 25-plus females.

Bear in mind that animated pictures targeted to moms-with-kids often perform better than their tracking suggests. For one thing, movie researchers don’t interview little kids in shopping malls the way they do other demos. And moms may not even realize their kiddies want to see a film until they start saying so when the blitz of pre-opening commercials hits their favorite TV shows. That’s when moms know there's no escaping seeing, well, “Smurfs.”

Bottom line: “Cowboys” is the favorite to win next weekend’s boxoffice shootout.