Sony, U both estimate $36.2 mil for respective pics

While “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ continues to work its wizardry across the globe, the domestic box office made news with a heated showdown for the top spot. Toon hybrid “The Smurfs” overperformed for Sony, while Universal’s “Cowboys and Aliens” corralled less coin than expected as both debuted to an estimated $36.2 million.

Most B.O. pundits had expected “Cowboys” to run away with the weekend. But a slow start on Friday let “Smurfs” gain considerable ground — leaving even rival studio execs, who couldn’t name a winner on Sunday, guessing until final figures arrive Monday.

International box office was less of a mystery, with the eighth and last “Harry Potter” on top for the third straight week with $66.4 million, pushing it across the global $1 billion mark in just 19 days.

That makes “Part 2″ the highest-grossing “Potter” pic worldwide thanks to series-best grosses both in the U.S. ($318.5 million) and abroad ($690 million).

Warner Bros.’ PG-13 rated romantic comedy “Crazy Stupid Love” bowed domestically with an estimated $19.3 million. Pic landed in fifth place behind Paramount’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” with $24.9 million, and “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” with an estimated $21.9 million through Sunday.

“Captain America” has cumed $116.8 million after falling 62% in its second frame. That dropoff was unwelcome news considering fellow Marvel pic “Thor” fell just 47% in its soph sesh earlier this summer. (“Thor” has grossed $180 million domestically.)

Overseas, “Captain America” earned an estimated $48.5 million from an additional 23 markets. Last weekend, the film launched day-and-date with the U.S. only in Italy, resulting in a second-frame cume of $53.5 million.

At the Stateside specialty B.O., Miranda July’s “The Future” opened to $28,185 in its single engagement, selling out shows at New York’s IFC Center.

Sony Pictures Classics launched Sundance pickup “The Guard” at four locations for an estimated per-screen average of $20,100. That narrowly beats another Sundance title, “The Devil’s Double,” from Lionsgate, which averaged $19,000 from five locations.

Also launching well in limited release, Sony/Screen Gems’ “Attack the Block,” acquired after SXSW, saw an estimated per-screen average of $16,306 at eight theaters.

B.O.’s adult options

On paper, it probably looked like an ideal counterprogramming pair-up, but “Cowboys and Aliens” lost a significant portion of its adult aud to “Smurfs.”

It was a crowded weekend overall for adult-skewing fare, with 71% of the opening auds for Warner’s “Crazy Stupid Love” over 25. (“Cowboys” skewed 63% over 30; “Smurfs,” 55% over 25.)

Warner domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman said he expects the “Crazy Stupid Love” age demographics to even out over the upcoming weeks, as well as the pic’s gender breakdown, which skewed 64% female.

Meanwhile, families accounted for 65% of the “Smurfs” aud.

Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer said “Smurfs” appeals to a broad audience. “There’s a huge nostalgia factor, even a cool factor, when it comes to these little guys,” he said.

Sony had third-party promotional deals with McDonald’s, Build-a-Bear and FAO Schwartz to help build recognition among young kids.

The pic’s teenage crowd, as well as perhaps families with older kids, most likely helped boost 3D screenings of “Smurfs” beyond expectations, with 45% of the opening. The film had 60% of its total location count (3,395) in 3D (2,042) and came in higher with the format vs. recent fanboy pics like “Captain America” (40%) and “Harry Potter” (43%).

“Smurfs,” budgeted at $110 million from Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures, saw an A- CinemaScore, better than its fellow openers “Crazy Stupid Love,” which received a B+, and “Cowboys and Aliens,” with a B rating.

U distrib exec Nikki Rocco said she’s unsure how “Cowboys” will play out based on exit polls but still praised the pic’s original take, saying, “It was a very fresh and innovative concept, and it was worth taking a risk with this great group of filmmakers.”

Foreign prospects

“Cowboys,” budgeted at a reported $163 million, was co-financed by U along with DreamWorks and Relativity Media. The film was helmed by Jon Favreau and stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.

Pic’s stars, as well as Favreau, could help overseas appeal.

“Smurfs” should do well in foreign markets based on the property’s popularity there. Sony launched the film this weekend in Spain, where it debuted at No. 1 with an estimated $4 million, more than 27% higher than the local opening for “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Next weekend, “Smurfs” expands to France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil and the property’s home turf, Belgium.

“Cowboys” kickstarts its overseas release the weekend of Aug. 12 in markets including South Korea and Russia; “Crazy Stupid Love” opens first in Germany on Aug. 18. Harry’s heyday

After its record-smashing global debut, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ now stands as the franchise’s highest-grossing installment in just three weeks with more than $1 billion worldwide. 3D gave the film added spark — especially overseas.

$1.008 bil

Global

(Previous best: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” 974.8 mil)

$690 mil

International

(Previous best: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,”

660.4 mil)

$318.5 mil

Domestic

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