Weekend Box Office (August 6 - 8, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers were in the mood for a laugh as the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg action-comedy The Other Guys debuted at number one ending the three-week run at the top of the popular crime thriller Inception which still attracted strong business in second place. The dance sequel Step Up 3D opened in third with the lowest debut of the series while the overall marketplace lagged behind year-ago levels.

Continuing a terrific run at the summer box office, Sony stole the number one spot again with The Other Guys which grossed $35.5M giving Ferrell the second best opening of his career. Averaging a potent $9,735 from 3,651 locations, the PG-13 film about mismatched New York detectives tackling a criminal scheme in the financial world played to a broad audience of movie fans interested in laughs, and not thinking. Reviews were quite good for a mainstream summer comedy. Ferrell's only better bow came from Talladega Nights - also from director Adam McKay - which launched with $47M this same month in 2006.

The actors worked feverishly promoting Guys everywhere they could and the publicity certainly helped generate more sales. After Ferrell's Land of the Lost turned into one of last summer's most notorious bombs, audiences were ready to embrace him again in this formulaic, yet marketable cop comedy. Airing the full trailer during the highly-rated season premiere of Jersey Shore, which scored big numbers with teens, helped too. According to studio research, Guys skewed towards young men with 56% of the audience being male and 55% under 25. The odd couple pic was just the latest winner for Sony which has been on a hot four-for-four streak this summer following The Karate Kid, Grown Ups, and Salt which should reach a combined domestic haul of $460M. The studio shifts gears next weekend with Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts which will play to adult women when it opens opposite Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables which should play heavily to adult men.

Inception's reign at the top of the box office had to end at some point. Christopher Nolan's mind-bending thriller dropped to second place but still posted a good hold grossing $18.5M for a low 33% decline in the fourth frame. Warner Bros. has now hauled in a stunning $227.6M in 24 days of release and has surpassed How to Train Your Dragon to become the second biggest non-sequel of 2010 after Alice in Wonderland which pulled in $334.2M this spring. Inception also is the year's third highest-grossing 2D film after the latest Iron Man and Twilight installments and ranks sixth overall among all blockbusters this year.

With competition likely to get weaker in the second half of August, and the Labor Day holiday likely to deliver a little boost in sales, DiCaprio and company are still hoping to reach $300M domestically. Overseas, Inception remained red hot grossing an estimated $46.6M from 58 markets this weekend shooting the international total to $250M. With global grosses now at $478M, a worldwide final tally of $700M or more should result.

The dance sequel Step Up 3D delivered a decent but not dazzling opening coming in third with $15.8M helped by higher 3D ticket prices. Buena Vista's third offering of street dancing teens averaged a respectable $6,494 from 2,435 theaters but scored the worst bow for the four-year-old franchise. Compared to the first Step Up, which opened in August 2006 when Will Ferrell ruled the charts with Talladega Nights, the 3D sequel opened 24% weaker by gross and sold a disturbing 41% fewer tickets. 2008's Step Up 2 the Streets debuted to $18.9M as part of a five-day $28.7M holiday launch that included Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day. Step Up 3D's steep 23% Friday-to-Saturday tumble indicates that the fan base rushed out on opening day meaning long-term prospects could be shaky.

Audiences still lined up for the explosive combination of Angelina Jolie + guns as the action hit Salt took fourth place with $10.9M, off 44%. Sony has raked in a solid $91.8M in 17 days with the superstar a week away from scoring the seventh $100M grosser of her career putting her just two behind partner Brad Pitt. The CIA thriller's trajectory should take it to about $120M. With Will Ferrell stealing away the comedy crowd, Steve Carell and Paul Rudd's pic Dinner for Schmucks tumbled 56% to $10.4M in its second weekend giving Paramount $46.6M in ten days. A final gross in the neighborhood of $75M could result.

The blockbuster cartoon comedy Despicable Me slipped 40% to $9.3M boosting the cume to a robust $209.3M. The Universal hit stands a chance of matching the performance of rival 3D summer toon Shrek Forever After despite not having a built-in audience. Dropping a moderate 44% in its second weekend was Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore with $6.9M. Warner Bros. has taken in a weak $26.4M with its 3D family offering and is headed for a lousy final of roughly $45M which would be less than half of the $93.4M tally of its 2D predecessor which opened in 2001 when ticket prices were much lower.

Zac Efron's melodrama Charlie St. Cloud collapsed 62% in its sophomore frame to $4.7M giving Universal a disappointing $23.5M in ten days. Produced for $44M, the PG-13 entry should finish with only $35M or so. Getting closer to the quadruple-century mark, Toy Story 3 followed with $3.1M in its eighth lap, down 39%, for a $396.4M total. Next weekend, the Disney/Pixar 3D smash should become only the 11th film to ever cross $400M domestically. However its current admissions tally is still very close to the 44 million stubs sold by 1995's 2D original.

Jumping into the top ten for the first time was the indie comedy hit The Kids Are All Right which grossed $2.6M from 994 theaters. Focus has been adding theaters each week with 147 more coming aboard this frame. The average was just a mild $2,613 while the weekend drop was 26%. Kids has grossed $14M to date which is impressive for a smaller film.

The top ten films grossed $117.7M which was off 6% from last year when G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra opened in the top spot with $54.7M; but up 9% from 2008 when The Dark Knight stayed at number one for a fourth consecutive weekend with $26.1M.

Compared to projections, The Other Guys opened ahead of my $27M forecast while Step Up 3D debuted below my $19M prediction.

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

Be sure to check the chart for the top August openings of all-time. For NEW reviews of The Other Guys, Step Up 3D, and the My Name Is Khan DVD, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Expendables, Eat Pray Love, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World all open.

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

# Title Aug 6 - 8 Jul 30 - Aug 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Other Guys $ 35,543,162 3,651 1 $ 9,735 $ 35,543,162 Sony
2 Inception 18,505,470 27,485,245 -32.7 3,418 4 5,414 227,637,569 Warner Bros.
3 Step Up 3D 15,812,311 2,435 1 6,494 15,812,311 Buena Vista
4 Salt 10,908,204 19,471,355 -44.0 3,317 3 3,289 91,788,345 Sony
5 Dinner for Schmucks 10,375,397 23,527,839 -55.9 3,004 2 3,454 46,620,949 Paramount
6 Despicable Me 9,283,360 15,524,230 -40.2 3,413 5 2,720 209,287,345 Universal
7 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge... 6,902,116 12,279,363 -43.8 3,705 2 1,863 26,428,266 Warner Bros.
8 Charlie St. Cloud 4,700,490 12,381,585 -62.0 2,725 2 1,725 23,496,620 Universal
9 Toy Story 3 3,119,088 5,122,907 -39.1 1,714 8 1,820 396,387,342 Buena Vista
10 The Kids Are All Right 2,597,177 3,525,585 -26.3 994 5 2,613 14,040,182 Focus
11 Grown Ups 2,407,379 4,548,144 -47.1 1,769 7 1,361 155,670,603 Sony
12 The Sorcerer's Apprentice 2,361,228 4,465,524 -47.1 1,766 4 1,337 57,062,845 Buena Vista
13 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2,290,262 4,014,953 -43.0 1,704 6 1,344 293,101,870 Summit
14 Ramona and Beezus 1,617,123 3,710,990 -56.4 1,478 3 1,094 21,068,783 Fox
15 The Last Airbender 704,653 1,815,170 -61.2 639 6 1,103 128,971,020 Paramount
16 The Karate Kid 612,692 595,026 3.0 442 9 1,386 173,883,702 Sony
17 The Girl Who Played With Fire 471,459 542,670 -13.1 178 5 2,649 4,562,822 Music Box
18 Predators 443,645 1,093,290 -59.4 454 5 977 50,497,643 Fox
19 Shrek Forever After 434,225 574,024 -24.4 308 12 1,410 236,554,025 Paramount
20 Middle Men 325,641 252 1 1,292 325,641 Paramount
Top 5 $ 91,144,544 $ 98,390,254 -7.4
Top 10 117,746,775 128,821,145 -8.6
Top 20 129,415,082 141,988,565 -8.9
Top 20 vs. 2009 129,415,082 142,775,510 -9.4

Last Updated: August 9, 2010 at 8:40PM ET

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