Weekend Box Office (July 30 - August 1, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

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 $27.5M in its third weekend, according to final studio figures, 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 $7,753 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 $23.5M. The Steve Carell-Paul Rudd pic averaged $8,082 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 46%, reasonably low for a summer action movie, to $19.5M in third place. Sony has banked $71M 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 $104M 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 $15.5M for another slim decline of 35%. 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.

Debuting at number five was Zac Efron's starring vehicle Charlie St. Cloud which bowed to $12.4M from 2,718 sites for a mediocre $4,555 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 was reported by Universal to have dipped by 23% to $2.9M. Produced for $44M, pricey for this type of drama, Charlie drew an audience that was 79% female and 59% under 25. Reviews were terrible.

Proving that parents can't be fooled into seeing just any 3D kids movie, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore opened poorly in sixth place with $12.3M from a very wide 3,705 theaters for a weak $3,314 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.

Disney and Pixar dropped to seventh with Toy Story 3 which grossed $5.1M in its seventh session, off 43%, for a $389.8M 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 $4.5M lifting the cume to $150.8M. 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 54% to $4.5M for a weak $52M sum for Disney. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse rounded out the top ten with $4M, down 44%, and $288.2M to date.

In the limited release world, the César Award-winning French film The Concert enjoyed a good platform debut grossing $21,742 from a pair of theaters for a solid $10,871 average for The Weinstein Company. Focus expanded its indie hit comedy The Kids Are All Right nationwide to 847 locations and grossed $3.5M for a decent $4,162 average. Total stands at $9.6M.

The top ten films grossed $128.8M 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.

Compared to projections, Dinner for Schmucks opened a few notches above my $20M forecast while Cats & Dogs and Charlie St. Cloud both debuted below my respective predictions of $15M and $16M, respectively.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a review of Dinner For Schmucks, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Other Guys and Step Up 3D both open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Jul 30 - Aug 1 Jul 23 - 25 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Inception $ 27,485,245 $ 42,725,012 -35.7 3,545 3 $ 7,753 $ 193,313,741 Warner Bros.
2 Dinner for Schmucks 23,527,839 2,911 1 8,082 23,527,839 Paramount
3 Salt 19,471,355 36,011,243 -45.9 3,612 2 5,391 71,033,711 Sony
4 Despicable Me 15,524,230 23,689,060 -34.5 3,602 4 4,310 190,330,425 Universal
5 Charlie St. Cloud 12,381,585 2,718 1 4,555 12,381,585 Universal
6 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore 12,279,363 3,705 1 3,314 12,279,363 Warner Bros.
7 Toy Story 3 5,122,907 8,917,512 -42.6 2,105 7 2,434 389,761,491 Buena Vista
8 Grown Ups 4,548,144 7,428,742 -38.8 2,269 6 2,004 150,761,385 Sony
9 The Sorcerer's Apprentice 4,465,524 9,651,495 -53.7 2,524 3 1,769 52,026,528 Buena Vista
10 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 4,014,953 7,186,170 -44.1 2,334 5 1,720 288,199,907 Summit
11 Ramona and Beezus 3,710,990 7,810,481 -52.5 2,719 2 1,365 16,375,681 Fox
12 The Kids Are All Right 3,525,585 2,594,758 35.9 847 4 4,162 9,636,508 Focus
13 The Last Airbender 1,815,170 4,217,021 -57.0 1,238 5 1,466 127,293,447 Paramount
14 Predators 1,093,290 3,120,656 -65.0 873 4 1,252 49,491,249 Fox
15 Knight and Day 700,791 1,694,003 -58.6 831 6 843 74,185,643 Fox
16 The Karate Kid 595,026 1,100,315 -45.9 461 8 1,291 172,932,064 Sony
17 Shrek Forever After 574,024 225,825 154.2 330 11 1,739 235,646,952 Paramount
18 The Girl Who Played With Fire 542,670 563,790 -3.7 174 4 3,119 3,770,754 Music Box
19 Winter's Bone 308,597 322,661 -4.4 139 8 2,220 4,017,162 Roadside Attrac.
20 Iron Man 2 301,277 438,975 -31.4 286 13 1,053 311,417,007 Paramount
Top 5 $ 98,390,254 $ 120,994,322 -18.7
Top 10 128,821,145 150,757,392 -14.6
Top 20 141,988,565 159,143,156 -10.8
Top 20 vs. 2009 141,988,565 122,907,694 15.5

Last Updated: August 2, 2010 at 9:55PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.