Inception Dreams Up $60.4 Million in Weekend Box Office Results

As expected, the highly-anticipated Christopher Nolan sci-fi heist flick Inception made a big impact in its debut at the North American box office while Disney’s fantasy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice stumbled out of the gate during its premiere. A strong hold by last week’s number one film, Universal’s Despicable Me, helped keep ticket sales 10% higher than the top ten a year ago this weekend.

Commandeering a huge 3,792 screen count of which 197 were IMAX, Inception rode the wave of strong reviews, a great ad campaign and huge anticipation from the filmmaker’s legion of fans to a huge $60.4 million estimated weekend take. With the inclusion of the $3 million generated by midnight shows at 12:01am Friday’s take was $21.56 million. Saturday’s take was nearly identical at $21.57 million (which is actually 15% more than Friday’s gross minus the 12:01 showings) while Sunday’s gross is estimated to land in the $17.3 million range, off 20% from Saturday.

While the film may not have reached the $158 million that The Dark Knight did when it opened two years ago this weekend, the opening for Inception is still impressive given the film’s 148-minute running time, the fact that it is aimed more towards the adult market and that the film lacks the benefit of the higher-priced 3D tickets, which is what many a pricey blockbuster is now counting on to bring in the big bucks.

But now that the months of anticipation and marketing have led to a big opening, the question is what type of legs the movie will have. Warner knows that Nolan’s fans will go back for a repeat viewing or two, but what about the average moviegoer who went on opening weekend after being intrigued by the glowing reviews and cool ads? And will they urge their friends to check it out in the theater, or advise them to stay away from the mindbender action epic (the film scored an “A” from adults polled by Cinemascore, while the younger set gave the movie a “B+”) ? The second weekend will be the tell all.

Universal’s hit animated comedy Despicable Me held strong in its second weekend by easing only 42% to $32.7 million from last weekend’s big opening for a solid ten-day haul of $118.3 million. Audiences are enjoying what they are seeing and telling their friends to check out Gru and his minions in the theater. Not only is the film doing solid family matinee business on the weekend, it’s also bringing in solid numbers during the week. And what do you know? Plans for a sequel were announced this past week! Until that one arrives in theaters, look for this film to finish in the $185-190 million range.

Disney’s live-action summer woes continued this weekend with the weak bow of the Nicolas Cage-starrer The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The effects-heavy family fantasy, inspired by the Mickey Mouse sequence from 1940’s Fantasia, opened on a wide 3.504 screen count and only managed $17.3 million for the weekend ($24.4 million since its Wednesday debut). With this film and May’s Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time failing to catch on with American audiences, producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s reliable golden touch seems to be tarnishing a bit. As with Persia, which has done a whopping 72% of its business overseas, Disney will have to look to foreign markets to recoup their investment costs on Apprentice.

After dropping a little less than expected in its second weekend, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse took a bigger hit this weekend by dropping 57% to an estimated $13.4 million and a new total of $265 million. The film lost most of its IMAX screens to Inception this weekend, which no doubt expedited its decline. Originally expected to finish just past the $296 million generated by last year’s New Moon, Eclipse may now be looking to conclude its run with $280-290 million domestically.

In fifth place with $11.75 million for the weekend was the highest grossing film of 2010 so far, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3. With $362.5 million in the North American bank and counting, the movie is inching slowly but surely toward the $400 million mark. Overseas, the film is still in its early release stages (thanks to the World Cup) but has pulled in over $222 million thus far. Not bad for a movie once poised to go directly to Blu-ray and DVD.

Once again, Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups defied the odds and held its ground by easing a mere 36% from last weekend to haul in another $10 million in sales. With $129 million collected thus far, the Sony hit should finish its run with a solid $160 million. Not so lucky in seventh place was Paramount’s The Last Airbender which fell another 55% to gross an estimated $7.5 million from 2,805 screens. With $115 million in the bank domestically, the $150 million production looks to finish its run close to the $130 million mark.

The biggest drop in the top ten belonged to Fox’s Predators which fell a troubling 72.5% from last weekend to land in eight place. With a $6.8 million weekend haul and a new ten-day total of $40 million, the latest installment in the long-running franchise may have pleased more critics than Fox anticipated, but that did not translate into bringing in new viewers outside of the series’ fan base. The Robert Rodriguez-produced flick should finish its domestic run just over the $50 million mark. Overseas, the film has pulled in $17.2 million since its day-and-date launch with North America last weekend.

Fox’s other film in the top ten, the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz comedy Knight and Day, also suffered a large drop in ticket sales this weekend. Knight dropped by 53% for a $3.7 million estimated haul. With $69.2 million in the bank so far, the $117 million production looks to be finishing its domestic run with a disappointing $75 million. Following a period that saw the likes of smash hits such as Avatar, the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel and this spring’s Date Night, Fox appears to be having one bummer of a summer.

Rounding out the top ten was Sony’s other big blockbuster, The Karate Kid, which added $2.2 million to its total now standing at $169.2 million. The surprise blockbuster looks to call it a day with $175-180 million in the bank before embarking on a long and profitable run on home video and cable this fall.

Weekend Box Office Game, scheduled to go live one day later than usual this upcoming Wednesday as opposed to Tuesday.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.