Box Office Guru Wrapup: Inception Beats Schmucks for #1 Spot

Plus, Charlie St. Cloud and Cats and Dogs disappoint.

This weekend, three new intruders couldn't keep fans away from Leonardo DiCaprio's hit thriller Inception which captured the number one spot in North America for the third straight time. Among new releases, the Steve Carell-Paul Rudd comedy Dinner for Schmucks delivered a good opening in the runnerup spot while the 3D family film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and the teen melodrama Charlie St. Cloud both disappointed in their debuts.

Christopher Nolan's mind games on moviegoers continued with Inception pulling in an estimated $27.5M in its third weekend to rule the box office once again. The Warner Bros. sensation dropped only 36% and boosted its 17-day total to a stellar $193.3M with the $200M barrier set to fall on Tuesday in its 19th day of release. The average was a solid $7,763 from 3,545 sites with 247 theaters being shed. It was only the third new release of the year to threepeat following Alice in Wonderland and Shrek Forever After, and the first 2D film to do so since 2008's Tropic Thunder which followed the four-week reign of Nolan's last film The Dark Knight.

Inception has become the second biggest hit ever for DiCaprio after just Titanic and has surpassed Clash of the Titans to become the studio's top-grossing film of the year. Warners can sure use it since its other summer bets Sex and the City 2, Splice, and Jonah Hex have all been underperformers. With good legs, Inception still has a chance at reaching $300M from North America alone. Overseas, the mind-bending thriller grossed an estimated $53.7M from 51 markets lifting the international tally to $170M and the worldwide gross to a huge $363M.

Paramount's star-driven comedy Dinner for Schmucks opened in second place with a respectable bow of $23.3M, according to estimates. The Steve Carell-Paul Rudd pic averaged $8,004 from 2,911 locations and came in close to Carell's last live-action hit Date Night which debuted to $25.2M and a $7,471 average in April. With its more accessible PG-13, Schmucks also opened better than Rudd's recent R-rated ventures like I Love You, Man ($17.8M) and Role Models ($19.2M).

Summer has been surprisingly light on star-driven broad comedies with many of the laughs coming from cartoons or action titles instead. At this point last summer, The Hangover and The Proposal had grossed a combined $405M. Dinner came in and played to an underserved audience. Produced for about $60M, Schmucks played to a crowd that was 55% male and 54% over 25. The CinemaScore grade was just a B and this Friday's arrival of the Will Ferrell comedy The Other Guys will provide direct competition so the road ahead will not be an easy one.

Angelina Jolie enjoyed a solid second weekend for her spy thriller Salt which dropped 47%, reasonably low for a summer action movie, to an estimated $19.3M in third place. Sony has banked $70.8M in ten days and looks headed for the vicinity of $120M coming close to the $134.5M of her 2008 stylish effects-heavy action title Wanted. Overseas, Salt's roll out continued this weekend with top spot bows in South Korea, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ukraine, and the Philippines. The international take over the frame was $24.5M upping the cume to $32.8M for a global gross of $103.6M to date with much more to come. With a production cost north of $100M, the stunts-heavy pic could be heading for a worldwide tally of $300M or more.

Despicable Me spent its fourth weekend in the top five collecting an estimated $15.5M for another slim decline of 34%. Universal has taken in an impressive $190.3M in just 24 days and is less than a week away from scoring its first double-century smash in three years. The studio's spy sequel The Bourne Ultimatum scored a $227.5M gross in the summer of 2007 and it's been a rough ride since for the distributor.

Proving that parents can't be fooled into seeing just any 3D kids movie, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore opened poorly in fifth place with an estimated $12.5M from a very wide 3,705 theaters for a weak $3,381 average despite the added surcharges collected for the format. The followup to the 2001 hit which grossed $93.4M generated little interest and with the target audience of families already having paid large sums of cash for this year's numerous other 3D kidpics, Kitty Galore just didn't warrant the extra expenditure. The opening was on par with the $11.6M of June's Marmaduke, another franchise pet movie that nobody asked for.

Debuting outside the top five was Zac Efron's starring vehicle Charlie St. Cloud which bowed to an estimated $12.1M from 2,718 sites for a mediocre $4,465 average. The PG-13 film was extremely front-loaded drawing the bulk of its young female audience on opening day with $5.5M on Friday. Saturday tumbled a disturbing 32% to $3.8M and Sunday is projected by Universal to dip by 30% to $2.7M. Produced for $44M, pricey for this type of drama, Charlie drew an audience that was 79% female and 59% under 25. Reviews were terrible.

Disney and Pixar dropped to seventh with Toy Story 3 which grossed an estimated $5M in its seventh session, off 44%, for a $389.7M total. Adam Sandler broke the $150M mark for the fourth time in his career with the leggy comedy hit Grown Ups. The Sony release fell 39% to an estimated $4.5M lifting the cume to $150.7M. The comedian's only bigger grossers were 1999's Big Daddy ($163.5M), 1998's The Waterboy ($161.5M), and 2005's The Longest Yard ($158.1M).

Nicolas Cage's The Sorcerer's Apprentice suffered the worst decline in the top ten tumbling 55% to an estimated $4.3M for a weak $51.9M sum for Disney. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse rounded out the top ten with an estimated $4M, down 45%, and $288.2M to date.

In the limited release world, the CÚsar Award-winning French film The Concert enjoyed a good platform debut grossing an estimated $20,121 from a pair of theaters for a solid $10,061 average for The Weinstein Company. Focus expanded its indie hit comedy The Kids Are All Right nationwide to 847 locations and grossed an estimated $3.5M for a decent $4,090 average. Total stands at $9.6M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $128.1M which was up 20% from last year when Funny People opened in the top spot with $22.7M; but down 9% from 2008 when The Dark Knight remained at number one for a third consecutive weekend with $42.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

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