Weekend Box Office: ‘Inception’ Stays On Top

This weekend, it looked like Angelina Jolie’s miserable spy thriller ‘Salt‘ was poised to take the top slot. There was great buzz surrounding the movie and a number of the country’s top critics gave the film a pass, even though it’s a barely enjoyable ‘Bourne’ rip-off that often looks and feels like a television movie. A bad television movie. Despite being the odds-on favorite to take the box office crown, ‘Salt’ didn’t quite make it. Thankfully, Christopher Nolan’s whiz-bang dream movie ‘Inception,’ which people can’t stop talking about, took the top spot again. Hallelujah, hallelujah.

The ‘Salt‘ marketing campaign was smart and effective; the studio even sent svelte star Angelina Jolie to the nerd-pocalypse known as San Diego Comic Con this weekend. But none of that was enough to topple the spinning top that is ‘Inception.’ The Leonardo DiCaprio-led dream heist movie made another $44 million. It went into the weekend having broken the $100 million barrier. It’s only the fifth film to do so this year, and the only one that isn’t 3-D or a franchise picture. It fell only 30%, which is practically unheard of. Doubly impressive is the fact that so many pundits were predicting its failure – for being too complicated, for not having enough stars, for not being part of a franchise, etc. Yet the opposite has happened. Many everyday people I have heard from absolutely love it, and can’t wait to get back and see it again! For good reason, too. It really is that great.

‘Salt,’ while failing to secure the top slot, pulled in $37.7 million. Not too shabby. It’s my bet that this thing will have legs, especially for those who found ‘Inception’ too damned confusing (i.e. peoples’ moms). I’m sure that no matter how much it makes here, ‘Salt’ will also have a strong presence overseas. The gears are already in work for a sequel, no doubt. Is it too early to suggest the title ‘Saltier?’

Other than that, there’s nothing too exciting to report for the rest of the Top 10. ‘Despicable Me,’ a middling little movie that barely made any impact on me, seems to be holding tough. It made another $24.5 million for the third place, amassing an impressive total of $162 million.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ despite being more or less a huge bomb for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, only dropped 44%, which isn’t too bad. I mean, 44% of a bomb is still a bomb; But it’s still in the Top 5, at #4, with another $9.8 million. (Making Disney feel better: ‘Toy Story 3,’ which was the #5 movie, has made $380.2 million. And it deserves every penny.)

The other big new release this weekend, the adaptation of the popular children’s book ‘Ramona and Beezus,’ made $8 million for sixth place.

My big prediction this weekend, that the continued roll-out of the superb family comedy ‘The Kids Are All Right‘ would guarantee entry in the Top 10, proved more or less to be completely and utterly wrong. Instead, the Robert Rodriguez-produced rubber monster movie ‘Predators‘ stayed tough, holding on to that #10 position. This will undoubtedly be its last weekend in the Top 10, but it has already made back its production budget. Rodriguez was talking up the sequel at Comic Con this weekend. This is very good news to those precious few who saw and loved Nimrod Antal’s high-adrenaline take on the material, a kind of ‘Naked Prey‘ in space.

Next weekend sees the release of the Steve Carrell/Paul Rudd comedy ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ (snore) and the kiddie sequel ‘Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.’ Please keep in mind that the original ‘Cats & Dogs,’ which was a spirited if overly derivative family comedy, was released NINE YEARS AGO, making this sequel at least eight years too late. (Was the movie even enough of a hit to warrant a sequel?) There’s also Zac Efron in the teen melodrama ‘Charlie St. Cloud,’ which, based on the trailers, seems to be about a young man who plays baseball with his ghost brother. So, more or less a remake of ‘Field of Dreams‘? I say yes! I actually think Zac Efron is one of the most talented young actors today, gifted in both comedy (that sex ed scene in ‘17 Again‘ never fails to crack me up) and drama (last year’s underrated, seemingly lost forever ‘Me and Orson Welles’). But it’ll be a cold day in hell before I see ‘Charlie St. Cloud.’ OK, maybe if I’m really bored…

The Top 10:

01 ‘Inception’ (Warner Bros) – $44 million

02 ‘Salt’ (Sony) – $37.7 million

03 ‘Despicable Me’ (Universal/Illumination Entertainment) – $24.5 million

04 ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ (Disney) – $9.8 million

05 ‘Toy Story 3’ (Disney) – $9.7 million

06 ‘Ramona and Beezus’ (Fox) – $8 million

07 ‘Grown Ups’ (Sony) – $7.5 million

08 ‘Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ (Summit) – $7 million

09 ”The Last Airbender’ (Paramount) – $4.5 million

10 ‘Predators’ (Fox) – $2.6 million

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