Gopher Hole

The bloggerati have been salivating all day over the apparently distinct possibility that the under-performing, flopping-around-like-a-flounder-on-the-sand Cowboys & Aliens will come in second for the weekend behind the horribly vile, reprehensible, apocalypse-summoning Smurfs. I’ve been too settled and soothed in Santa Barbara to care, but I know that David Poland‘s Cowboys & Aliens pan is good stuff.

Sunday morning update: Variety‘s Andrew Stewart is reporting that reps for Smurfs and Cowboys & Aliens are both estimating $36.2 million for the weekend, “leaving no room for a clear winner until [actuals] are released on Monday.”

Earlier: “According to Universal’s North American box office stats, Cowboys & Aliens opened only #2 Friday with $12.994 million, beaten by the $13.29 million debut of Sony Pictures’ The Smurfs,” Nikki Finke reported about five hours ago. “But Universal is still claiming its Western/scifi mashup should come in #1 for the weekend at $36.78 million, behind the little blue guys toon’s $36.02 million. Or is that only wishful thinking at this point?

Smurfs is really overperforming while Cowboys & Aliens is way behind expectations to the point of tanking.”

95 thoughts on “Gopher Hole

  1. I guess I’m in the minority with this, but I really, really had fun with Cowboys and Aliens. Loved Ford, loved Craig, OLIVIA WILDE OH MY GOD LOOK AT HER, Paul Dano cracked me up with his sniveling “Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Ride With the Devil” routine, loved Libatique’s lensing and grain and colors, loved the supporting cast…

    Admittedly, it’s an awful, weak script, but how many Westerns do we get these days, in beautiful widescreen with fun Hawksian tropes and great interplay between two terrific MOVIE STARS in the OLD WEST. I was grinning ear to ear like a total dumb-ass through most of it, to the point where I barely wanted the aliens to be in it… I was just having a GOOD TIME — a better time than at the drowsy and square Captain America. Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown, Walton Goggings, BOND AND INDIANA, grain, blue skies, horses, OPEN VISTAS, a climax that takes place in the WIDE OPEN with SUN and BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS?

    I fully acknowledge all its flaws and can’t entirely disagree with anyone for nitpicking it, but Jesus, it’s a WESTERN, it’s CRAIG, it’s FORD, it’s Favreau with the most confident direction he’s EVER displayed… Thought this was one of the summer’s nicest “Whoa!” surprises, then everyone has to go and be a cock and rain all over it.

  2. I guess Neil Patrick Harris has really expanded his audience with that sitcom. And to think he was almost a has-been until that Kevin Smith comic “cameo” and Harold and Kumar. Still, Craig and Ford coming in second isn’t bad for a non-Bond and non-Indiana Jones film. When’s the last time that happened? I know never, in Craig’s case.

    LexG: I might see C+A on that rec, ‘cus I was completely disappointed by Captain America, too. I think the only reason people like CA:FA is because of the look more than the actual story, ‘cus it’s clearly dropping pretty bad in its second weekend. Though I guess Johnston isn’t gonna complain, since it’s his biggest non-Jurassic Park and kid cash-in hit. But man, CA:FA seems to be doing worse than Thor *and* First Class now…

  3. LexG wrote:

    Thought this was one of the summer’s nicest “Whoa!” surprises, then everyone has to go and be a cock and rain all over it.

    My wife and I saw this at a drive-in in San Luis Obispo–C&A is an ideal drive-in movie, but we were a bit too fatigued to stay for the second feature HARRY POTTER FINALE.

    Better than IRON MAN 2 but not up to IRON MAN in terms of Favreau’s recent comic-book adaptation career.

  4. as much as I thought this film was a misfire I would cancel plans to attend a screening at a drive-in in the charming city of San Luis Obispo-

  5. Last I heard, the vibrant, energetic, go-get-’em CAPTAIN AMERICA was doing better at this stage of the game than THOR was in the same frame.

    CAP has a great cast, a hell of a villain, a terrific hero and leading lady, fun set pieces and an old-fashioned sense of adventure and character. COWBOYS is dead on the screen after a good setup — once the aliens invade, none of those umpteen screenwriters seemed to really know where to go with this. Craig was miscast, but Ford was pretty good. Wilde, however, is Miss Exposition and simply has no charm while delivering all that explanation, despite her good looks.

    Yes, it was shot beautifully, but the story made no fucking sense and the thing was just inert for most of its running time — a sadly missed opportunity.

  6. CAP has a great cast…

    Chris Evans and Hayley Borewell, who never shows her feet or wears a LITTLE OUTFIT. SNOOOOOOOOOORE

    a hell of a villain..

    Where? Weaving phoning it in? SNORE.

    a terrific hero…

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA CAPTAIN DOUCHERICA

    and leading lady…

    Haley Fatwell looking like my grandma?

    fun set pieces…

    What, those wack montages of nothing happening?

    and an old-fashioned sense of adventure and character.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  7. I’m still amazed by people that know a movie is written by Kurtzman and Orci and then expect it to have a good screenplay.

  8. When markj, the PSYCOPATHIC FUCKING LOSER, double-posts, it’s more like a ZILLIONTH POST, since he beats the same TIRED DRUMS all the time– OOOH I’m a LOSER and I HATE NEW MOVIES.

    FUCK YOU, BITCH

  9. dkaye: “Last I heard, the vibrant, energetic, go-get-’em CAPTAIN AMERICA was doing better at this stage of the game than THOR was in the same frame.”

    Yeah, but Thor was up against POTC.

  10. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  11. I swear, movie bloggers need to get over this thing where they pretend not to understand that a no-competition kiddie movie ALWAYS cleans up because you’re also selling a ticket to mom and/or dad. “Smurfs” was always going to open big. That third “Chipmunks” movie is ALSO going to open big. Everyone is aware of this.

    “Captain America” is doing slightly better than “Thor,” which was widely viewed as a pretty big hit (it won’t outdo it overall because “Thor” did INSANELY well overseas.) It’ll break $100 Million by the middle of the week, which (again, like “Thor”) is REALLY good for a franchise nobody outside of a comic book store previously cared about, with a lead actor that no one would’ve called a movie star the day before.

    Not to sound like a cliche, but “C&A” made me wish it’s screenplay could’ve been transported back in time as a mid-80s Carpenter project; or at least handed off to someone like Sam Raimi or Robert Rodriguez who wouldn’t have played it so safe. Favreau is a solid filmmaker, but I kept waiting for the movie to take off and start kicking the ass it’s premise promised… and it just never does.

  12. I agree Lex, it was a good bit of fun. I guess it’s a dying breed of moviegoer that likes seeing STARS who own the screen doing their thing and playing off each other. It’s kind of a shame that the two films this summer that touted their star team-ups as a big selling point, Cowboys and Larry Crowne, both disappointed at the box office while an endless parade of interchangeable no-names in comic book movies took the big bucks. Seriously, if you put Ryan Reynolds, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth in a line-up, would the average moviegoer know (or care) which was which?

  13. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  14. dkaye is right. That whole sequence where Craig and Wilde are flying and then land in the water? Completely, utterly inert. Dead on arrival.

    There’s so much in the movie that could have, should have worked. But Favreau’s visual realization is anemic. The action is staid. The characterizations, hollow (though Ford tries).

    Poland’s on target with the Silverado comparison. Watching Captain America recently–which I generally liked a lot–and now Cowboys & Aliens, I realized one of the most fundamental reasons why Raiders of the Lost Ark just works. It’s pretty simple–Indy gets his ass handed to him, over and over and over again. It’s immensely easier to make an audience relate to and sympathize with a character when it seems like he’s overcoming great odds. (This is one reason why Neo becomes a dramatically less interesting character from the original Matrix to the sequels, despite the zillion Agent Smiths flying around, but I suppose that’s not a fair comparison considering what kind of mythology was being constructed around the Neo character.) Captain America seemed to be invincible, and therefore, while I enjoyed the film, its weakest parts were actually the action sequences during which we are supposed to innately identify with the protagonist.

    At least with Neo and Captain America, there are narrative-related reasons for the characters to seem to be untouchable. But Craig’s character in Cowboys & Aliens is just an Old West roughneck, and with that opening action sequence with the three baddies, it became clear that you’d never feel, even for the tiniest moment, that he was in any genuine danger.

    Then there’s the technique, or lack thereof, of Favreau’s. Poland is again right on the money that a Spielberg-helmed Cowboys & Aliens would at least have had ocular vigor. The man packs more information in one shot than just about any other director making tentpole action movies conveys in five (usually painful) minutes.

    The only thing I suspect I’ll even barely remember fondly from Cowboys & Aliens is that riverboat turned upside-down. That was one “cool thing” that was actually pretty darned cool. Though, even that is problematic when you consider how much fun a more accomplished director would have had with that environ.

  15. THE Party where CRAIG AND WILDE LAND IN THE WATER IS WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION…

    Cuz it looks like OLIVIA WILDE HAS A GIANT LOAD ON HER FACE.

  16. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  17. Isn’t Hayley Atwell two years older than Olivia Wilde? She also seems to be endowed with a charming personality, but then she was in a film that gave her a full-bodied character.

  18. Hayley Atwell was pretty cool sucking on Knightley’s neck in that BORING ASS COSTUME MOVIE, but face it, she’s a grandma who weighs 200 pounds and her “character” in Captain Douche is about as exciting as oatmeal.

    BOW TO THE WILDE, a beautiful WHITE WOMAN.

  19. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  20. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  21. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  22. Agreed on both counts–Hayley Atwell is a most pulchritudinous creature, and Sasha’s site has been most disagreeable as of late.

  23. Seriously, that PANCHO VILLA ASS Gabe Toro ONLY dates white women, and I’m stuck eating SOY SAUCE…

    And I’M WHITE.

    God, even my mom is like, CAN’T YOU GET A WHITE GIRL?

  24. You’re one in a million

    You’re a shooting star

    You’re one in a million babe

    BECAUSE YOU’RE A WHITE BLONDE WOMAN IN LOS ANGELES.

  25. But if you dated a white woman in Los Angeles, you’d have to discuss India and “cultural milk.”

  26. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  27. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  28. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  29. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  30. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  31. Incisive, sharp commentary you have going there Lex. Especially the “tits are for fags” zinger. Why didn’t I see it before??…the defining female sexual characteristic is EXACTLY what homosexuals most ardently desire.

    Throw out another one Lexie, your insight is astounding. Something about white women perhaps?…just a thought.

  32. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have seemingly been amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  33. “the defining female sexual characteristic is EXACTLY what homosexuals most ardently desire.”

    You’d know, bitch.

  34. Bob: “I swear, movie bloggers need to get over this thing where they pretend not to understand that a no-competition kiddie movie ALWAYS cleans up because you’re also selling a ticket to mom and/or dad.”

    Rango disappointed.

    “”Smurfs” was always going to open big.”

    Not necessarily. Remember what happened to Yogi? Or even Hoodwinked Too?

  35. [Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings that have been seemingly amplified or inflamed by drinking.]

  36. Someone remind me again why LexG hasn’t been banned yet?

    Coming to this site and being greeted by this constant barrage of worthless trolling bullshit is getting more than a little old.

  37. I’m still amazed by people that know a movie is written by Kurtzman and Orci and then expect it to have a good screenplay.

  38. I guess Neil Patrick Harris has really expanded his audience with that sitcom. And to think he was almost a has-been until that Kevin Smith comic “cameo” and Harold and Kumar.

    Yeah, a couple of Emmy awards and a number one show tends to do that, dumbass.

    Then again, Harris had nothing to do with selling **THE SMURFS** to parents looking to dump their kids off.

    I enjoy Danny’s fantasy world, where third-billed character actors get credited/blamed for the successes and failures of movies based upon their performances in movies from five or ten years ago that the target audience likely never saw.

    IT’S SMURFS.

  39. If I’d reached out to someone like Wells and DP have and STILL get their blog defecated on like this, there’d be no questions. BANNED. FOR. LIFE.

  40. I was going to post something but I guess I’ll come back in a few days once Lex has disappeared.

    Dot you think you could put the “LexG” act to bed once and for all?

  41. Getting back on topic it will be interesting to see the final numbers for this weekend. If The Smurfs really do take out both Bond and Jones in the same film it says a lot about what the audience wants these days. Or it could just be that mixing sci-fi and the western was a really dumb thing to do.

  42. MovieBob you nailed it: “safe” is the problem here. I enjoyed the film. A lot.

    But wondered immediately about those meetings where the director probably “tried” to get the suits to follow the logic of the lead character and where that takes the pic narratively and tonally but I’m sure if he protested, his protests fell on deaf ears as there were toys to sell and sequels to plan.

    As it stands, the hero’s journey leads to a destination they’ve handed off to a secondary character. Writing 101 but it ain’t cos folks are stupid, it’s wrong cos it’s all about $$$$$ and following the blockbuster factory rules that screwed the pooch on this one.

  43. Smurfs is a softball. Something parents cant take their kids to and know there won’t be any subversive content. See Alfin and the Chipmunks; Hop; etc. Cowboys and Aliens was a slightly tougher sell given the mish-mash of genres.. I think the story here is the under performance of Cowboys not the success of the Smurfs.

  44. One advantage of living east of the Pacific and Mountain time zones is that we can read LexG’s post-midnight comments before Jeff wakes up and deletes them. I must say, LexG, that you really outdid yourself this time.

  45. If Lexg would post obscene, rude comments about where to buy Nikes, we’d have the inappropriate, sick, foot fetish and spamming all done in one fell swoop.

    Has anyone here ever seen a swoop fell?

  46. “[Deleted because HE is not a forum for expressing long-denied libidinal longings.]”

    THAT should be the name of this entry no, not “Gopher Hole”.

  47. I haven’t seen anyone anywhere point out that the original Smurfs cartoons were more popular with minority kids than with white kids. (And I don’t think the same can be said of the Chipmunks or Yogi Bear). Remember how many R&B hits in the early ’80s had Smurf voices on them? “Murphy’s Law”, etc etc? Gotta be a factor in this so-called box-office “surprise”.

  48. Getting back on topic it will be interesting to see the final numbers for this weekend. If The Smurfs really do take out both Bond and Jones in the same film it says a lot about what the audience wants these days. Or it could just be that mixing sci-fi and the western was a really dumb thing to do.

  49. If it’s so close that both films are claiming 36.2 million, we could end up with a scenario where Cowboys actually sold more tickets and got more bums on seats, but Smurfs made more money because of costly 3D ticket prices.

  50. I’m really amused that DZ is stupid enough to credit Neil Patrick Harris with ‘The Smurfs’ being a hit. At least he’s consistent with his stupidity, though, instead of only blaming failures on people who had nothing to do with the failure.

  51. JAODIAW: “Yeah, a couple of Emmy awards and a number one show tends to do that, dumbass.”

    There are plenty of shows which get Emmy exposure which don’t necessarily land a bigger audience. How well did MST3K the movie do again? Hell, the John Larroquette Show *won* an Emmy, and they still won’t release that fucker on DVD. So again, those Harold and Kumar movies “saved” NPH’s career.

    “Then again, Harris had nothing to do with selling **THE SMURFS** to parents looking to dump their kids off.”

    Yeah, but parents unable to dump their kids are more willing to endure Smurfs because of NPH.

    “I enjoy Danny’s fantasy world, where third-billed character actors get credited/blamed for the successes and failures of movies based upon their performances in movies from five or ten years ago that the target audience likely never saw.”

    Third-billed? If the trailer’s any indication, he shares half the screen-time in the movie. Now if you’re referring to Hank Azaria, I might agree w/ you there.

    Bilge: All he did was frequently express his preference for white meat.

    Mike: I don’t remember anyone who was black/Latino into the Smurfs. Maybe Scooby Doo, but that’s about it.

  52. Lupo: “At least he’s consistent with his stupidity, though, instead of only blaming failures on people who had nothing to do with the failure.”

    So Craig not being a big name outside of Bond didn’t contribute to C+A disappointing?

  53. Anyway, I said it before, but if Hillary wanted to win so badly, she could’ve just said she was wrong about voting for the Iraq War, and all would be forgiven.

  54. I have a theory that the spambot handle “aryan1911″ was automatically generated from LexG’s redacted posts. Not just the letters, but also the numbers.

  55. Wow, I’m glad I missed this one. I just read Lex’s terrific review from later and thought, “Gee, he sounds so good here! He must be getting better!”

    Apparently not.

  56. The thing about Lex is that his rants used to be honest and laid out a sexual insight that movie lovers are often hestiant to discuss, lest they look insensitive.

    More and more, he’s just a troll whose main goal is to say things to provoke a reaction, whether he believes them or not.

    The show is getting old.

  57. Neil Patrick Harris is pissing away all the good with those fucking Comcast commercials.

    And it’s Undercover Brother that marked the man’s renaissance, NOT Harold and Kumar.

  58. “So Craig not being a big name outside of Bond didn’t contribute to C+A disappointing? ”

    You always blame every movie failing on the person involved in the movie you hate the most. And then reach back and cherry pick some random failure to prove that their next endeavor will fail.

    ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ was destined to fail; people watching the trailer laughed it off the screen solely on the title, which you’d know if you ever actually went to the theater. Nobody could’ve opened that movie.

    If you want to blame any single person involved, it’s pretty clear from the interviews that Ron Howard was the person who insisted the movie had to be played absolutely seriously.

  59. Only a fool is surprised that Cowboys and Aliens tanked. I told everybody almost a year ago, when I saw Orci and Kurtzman’s incompetent little names as the screenwriters that this turnkey would go tits up.

    I noticed at that time that nobody really gave them any blame for their crappy scripts, though that does seem to be changing finally.

    I take personal credit for that!

    These two can’t make any “hits,” The Island proved that!

    All they can do is take a pre-sod franchise like Transformers or Star Trek and think up some crappy love-story for it, or some stupid action set-piece with tons of explosions and fart/piss gags.

    Hopefully this will mark the beginning of the studios asking why they should waste another dime on these two clowns.

  60. Lupo: “You always blame every movie failing on the person involved in the movie you hate the most.”

    So people like Tom Green, in spite of Freddie Got Fingered bombing?

    “‘Cowboys and Aliens’ was destined to fail; people watching the trailer laughed it off the screen solely on the title, which you’d know if you ever actually went to the theater. Nobody could’ve opened that movie.”

    Meh, Downey was able to sell a Michael Bay-style Sherlock Holmes movie, even though it was just as ridiculous.

  61. Not only was Craig wrong for the part, the flick was poorly sold. What was Craig’s character’s big motivation? Why should I care about him? What’s going to get me into the cinema? This character stuff may all have been evident *after* the film but his Bland With No Name character was so undersold in the marketing that no one gave a shit about him or thought he’d be a reason to see this movie. And he’s the fucking lead! They tried to coast on the title here. Dumb.

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