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‘Cowboys’ aims for top spot at B.O.

'Smurfs,' 'Crazy Stupid Love' also opening wide

A pair of hybrids (“Cowboys and Aliens,” “The Smurfs”), along with Warner Bros.’ PG-13 rated romantic comedy “Crazy Stupid Love,” go into battle today in one of the summer’s few weekends sans sequels or superheroes.

Domestic auds are expected to pony up for Universal’s horse-and-alien show in the mid-$40 million range. But the frame’s other wide releases will work to outdo holdovers “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Overseas, “Captain America” expands to 23 additional markets, including Mexico, Brazil, Australia and the U.K., after bowing day and date last weekend only in Italy. Pic’s expansion could provide stiff competish for “Harry Potter,” which has cumed $615 million internationally through Wednesday.

U’s “Cowboys,” co-financed by DreamWorks and Relativity Media, will have no trouble beating “Captain America” and “Harry Potter.”

Sony’s live action-toon hybrid “The Smurfs,” bowing at 3,395 locations, including some 2,000 in 3D, should beat the sophomore competish for No. 2 at the domestic B.O., but it’s unclear by how much.

Some box office observers predict “Smurfs” will land $18 million-$22 million through Sunday, while others — including Sony execs — optimistically say the film could reach as high as $30 million. Tracking services aren’t providing much clarity since family films often are difficult to predict.

But observers are equally puzzled by Warner’s “Crazy Stupid Love” — despite largely positive reviews, it’s unclear how much interest there is for the comedy starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

Pic, which bows Stateside at 3,020 locations, has pre-weekend expectations ranging from $15 million to $25 million, with Warner expecting the film to end up in the high teens.

“Cowboys and Aliens,” budgeted at a reported $163 million, has strong interest among men older than 25, according to U, with solid secondary support from adult femmes. Pic also has considerable fan support coming out of Comic-Con where the pic preemed, as well as popularity among broad demos for helmer Jon Favreau and stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

“Captain America” could drop around 55%, according to B.O. pundits, for a soph-sesh take of around $30 million. “Thor’s” second-outing decline was 47%. (Both “Thor” and “Captain America” bowed to just north of $65 million.)

Meanwhile, “Harry Potter” looks to settle in domestically after the pic’s 72% drop last weekend. “Part 2,” with a cume of $291.7 million through Wednesday, could see a similar drop in its third frame (39%) as 2009’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” — the most recent “Potter” pic to bow during the summer. Regardless, “Part 2” should become the franchise’s biggest domestic release through Sunday, beating the $317 million earned by series originator “Sorcerer’s Stone” in 2001.

It should be an equally robust weekend at the specialty B.O., with high-profile indies including Sony’s “Attack the Block” and Lionsgate’s “The Devil’s Double” set to bow.

“Attack the Block,” acquired after SXSW, opens at eight U.S. locations, while Sundance pickup “Devil’s Double” bows at five.

Another pair of Sundance titles open limited this weekend: Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Guard” at four engagements and Miranda July’s “The Future,” from Roadside Attractions, at one.

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