'Cowboys & Aliens' ties with 'The Smurfs' in weekend box office

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Actor Daniel Craig attends the Premiere of Universal Pictures 'Cowboys & Aliens' during Comic-Con 2011 at San Diego Civic Theatre on July 23, 2011 in San Diego.

There was a showdown between “Cowboys & Aliens” and those little blue creatures in white hats at the box office this weekend, but the Smurfs held their ground.

Surprisingly, moviegoers liked both films enough to bring the weekend tally of ticket sales to a tie – even though trackers expected Universal’s “Cowboys & Aliens” to shoot down all comers. It grossed $36.2 million in its premier weekend while Sony/Columbia’s “The Smurfs” opened and earned the same – $36.2 million.

"In all my years, I've never really seen a race this close," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "Generally, in the world of movie box office, $1 million is a close call, so to have two films in a dollar-to-dollar tie is somewhat unprecedented."

When the actual numbers are tallied today, they're likely to change.

Studios often round off their Sunday numbers, which include Friday and Saturday totals plus an estimate of Sunday business based on how similar movies have done in the past.

So Sunday figures typically are rounded off to the nearest $50,000 or $100,000, with more accurate, to-the-dollar numbers generally coming in Monday's final tally.

Meanwhile, plunging more than 60 percent into third place this weekend, “Captain America: The First Avenger” grossed $24.9 million for Paramount. The final sequel to the magical story of Harry Potter continues doing well for Warner Bros. – in its third week, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two” conjured up $21.9 million to take fourth place.

Winding up this weekend’s top movies, the debut of a film without any cartoon heroes or villains or creatures from outer space – romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love” premiered, grossing $19.3 million for Warner Bros.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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