Inception Tops Weekend Box Office Again

After months of rehashes, crap sequels and reboots, original ideas made their presence known at the North American box office and audiences turned out in big numbers. The science-fiction smash Inception held up remarkably well in its second weekend by fending off a strong debut of Sony’s Angelina Jolie action flick Salt to remain at the top of the box office again. In addition, Universal’s hit 3D animated feature Despicable Me continued its winning ways in its third weekend. Overall, the box office was down 10% from last weekend but up 11% from the same weekend a year ago when the wise-ass rodents of Disney’s G Force debuted with $31.7 million.

Benefiting from excellent word-of-mouth and repeat business, Christopher Nolan’s Inception dropped a mere 31% from last weekend to take in an estimated $43.5 million this weekend from 3,792 screens, bringing its ten-day total to a superb $143.6 million. The highly-acclaimed film will easily become the filmmaker’s second-biggest hit of his young career right behind The Dark Knight. A $275 million domestic gross is a given. The $300 million mark is also a strong possibility. The film exploded into the foreign market this weekend as well, bringing its early total to the $87 million mark.

While it may not have been enough to knock Leonardo DiCaprio and company out of the top spot, Angelina Jolie still kicked up a storm with her new espionage thriller Salt. With $36.5 million from 3,612 screens, the Philip Noyce-directed thriller offered up something that was all but nonexistent from this summer’s movie lineup: an ass-kicking female action hero. Reviews were mixed, but audiences have responded well to the $110 million Sony Production which portends to a healthy run throughout the remaining summer weeks. One has to wonder how the movie might have done had Tom Cruise stuck around to play the lead and not chosen to do Knight and Day.

America’s love affair with Gru, his little girls and those funny minions of Despicable Me continued strongly as the Universal smash dipped a mere 26.5% from last weekend to gross an estimated $24.5 million to bring its three week total to a great $161.7 million. The film should zip by the $200 million mark within the next week or so, and may wind up passing the $235 million gross of this past May’s Shrek Forever After to become the second-highest grossing animated feature released in 2010.

After a disappointing debut last weekend, Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice only dropped by 45% to an estimated $9.68 million for the weekend and a new total of $43 million. Despite the modest drop, most likely due to some decent word-of-mouth, the film is still a major disappointment for the Mouse House who poured close to $150 million into the Jerry Bruckheimer production. Domestically, the Nicolas Cage fantasy should finish between $65-70 million at the box office.

While Disney licks its monetary wounds caused by Bruckheimer, they can take solace from animated partner Pixar. Fifth place went to the seven-week old powerhouse Toy Story 3 which added another $9 million to its coffers to bring its total to an estimated $379.5 million. Off a mere 24% from last weekend’s take, Buzz and Woody are looking to pass the $400 million domestic mark sometime in August. Overseas the film has amassed $351 million so far to bring its global total to the $730 million thus far. With many of the overseas markets just starting to play the movie, there is a good chance that the third entry in the much-beloved franchise could top one billion dollars in ticket sales. If that happens, Disney can lay claim to having two films doing so in 2010, the other being Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Twentieth Century Fox’s summertime woes continued this weekend with the debut of Ramona and Beezus which was DOA with $8 million from 2,719 screens. While the movie was produced for a mere $15 million and received a fair amount of approval from the nation’s critics, the movie’s timing couldn’t be worse as families are still busy checking out the likes of Despicable Me and Toy Story 3. Like so many of Fox’s releases this summer, this film will have to find its audience on home video this fall.

Sony’s Grown Ups once again held up well in dropping a mere 23% for a $7 million weekend haul and a new domestic to-date take of $142.3 million. Look for Adam and the boys to end their run with a solid $160 million. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse dropped 47% to land in eighth place for the weekend. Teams Edward, Jacob, Sleepy, Dopey and Bella worked together to gross an estimated $7 million to bring the third film’s domestic take up to $279.7 million to date. The film may still pass the $296 million made by the second film, New Moon.

Rounding out the top ten were two fast-fading sci-fi/fantasy films. Paramount’s The Last Airbender eased by 46% to $4.1 million and $123.4 million to date, while Fox’s other film in the top ten, the sci-fi flick Predators landed in tenth place with $2.85 million. Off 60% from the previous weekend, the Robert Rodriguez-produced film has pulled in $46.5 million domestically and another $48 million internationally.

Next weekend Paramount invites filmgoers to Dinner With Schmucks while Universal releases Charlie St. Cloud and Warner unleashes the 3D sequel Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, all attempting to challenge Inception for the number one spot. You can predict what each of these films might make next weekend for a chance at Blu-ray prizes in our interactive Weekend Box Office Prophet Game.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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