'Smurfs' happily trails not far behind

“Cowboys and Aliens” was trotting along with box-office expectations Friday, giving the Universal genre mash-up a good shot at the mid-$40 milllion range, while Sony’s “The Smurfs” was la-la-la’ing its way to a $12 million Friday bow that could put it over $30 million for the weekend.

Meanwhile, “Crazy Stupid Love” was holding its own, pacing somewhere between $5 million to $7 million for Friday en route to a possible $20 million weekend — on the high side of expectations for the rom-com.

“Cowboys” was pacing ahead of comparable films “Super 8″ and “Battle Los Angeles,” though neither of those pics carried the $163 million production budget of Jon Favreau’s alien-invasion oater. The pic has strong interest among men older than 25, according to U, with solid secondary support from adult femmes, which could boost its late-weekend returns even higher.

“Smurfs,” meanwhile, was initially predicted to hit the $18 million-$22 million range — though its early returns were trending past $30 million, pic’s perf is expected to fall off sharply as the weekend wears on.

The three-way race comes in one of the few summer frames with no sequels or superheroes debuting, though holdovers “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ will certainly be a factor. “Captain America” could steal the No. 2 spot with an expected 55% dropoff that would give it a soph-sesh take of around $30 million.

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