USA TODAY - 2 Guns proved too much for Smurfs 2, but neither film showed overwhelming firepower at the box office this weekend.
Guns, a buddy-cop comedy starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, took the top spot at theaters with $27.4 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.
The debut met most analysts' expectations, which tend to be lower during August as kids prepare to return to school.
Guns divided critics, 58% of whom gave it a thumbs-up, according to rottentomatoes.com. Three-fourths of fans, however, liked the movie, the site says.
Tim Briody of boxofficeprophets.com says the debut "is fine for the two leads, both of whom have been reliable draws over the last 10 years."
He says the film benefited by being a "change of pace from the unending sequels and superheroes we've seen this summer."
The Wolverine, the sixth installment of the X-Men franchise, fell to second place with $21.7 million.
The Smurfs 2, meanwhile, took third place with $18.2 million. Critics hammered the animated sequel: Just 12% recommended the movie. About 69% of moviegoers liked it, rottentomatoes.com says.
While the opening fell short of forecasts, Briody says that the adaptation of the television series has become an international powerhouse.
"The worldwide grosses will likely guarantee the existence of a Smurfs 3," he says.
The first film did $563 million worldwide in 2011, and distributor Sony will announce Tuesday a "mini-movie," The Legend of Smurfy Hollow, to be released on DVD Sept. 10. The movie, an animated take on the Washington Irving short story, will feature Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen and Hank Azaria.
The haunted house tale The Conjuring did $13.7 million, bringing its total to $108.6 million and making it just the 16th horror film to cross the $100 million mark, according to hollywood.com.
The animated comedy Despicable Me 2 rounded out the top five with $10.4 million.
Final figures are due Monday.