Inception and Salt Top the box office!

 “Inception” from Warner Bros. proves that smart and summer can actually go together as it tops the chart for the second straight weekend.

072226H1.jpgWith another $42.7 million this weekend, Christopher Nolan can be called “Mr. July” since he pretty much owns the month of July every two years.  In 2008, “The Dark Knight” was the July box-office champ and it can be expected that in 2012 when the next “Batman” installment hits theatres, that it will be the film to beat as well.  Unquestionably challenging, visually stunning and just plain old brainy fun, “Inception” performed well all week long and crossed the $100 million mark last Wednesday in just seven days of release (the fastest for any non-sequel 2-D movie this year).  The film is now up to $142.9 million in domestic box office.  A minimal 32% drop based on great word-of-mouth was responsible for this strong second weekend showing and the film should continue to do well in the coming weeks.  IMAX again is an integral part of the film’s success with $4.9 million plus or an impressive 12% of the second weekend gross and down just 31% vs. opening weekend.

072821H1.jpgComing in second in a very tight race was Sony’s Angelina Jolie action vehicle “Salt” which pulled in a solid $36.0 million and proved that a woman can be as much of a box office draw as a man as the lead in an action movie.  As she proved with 2008’s “Wanted,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and the “Tomb Raider” series, Jolie certainly has the “street cred” with audiences to pull this off and make it look good at the same time.  “Salt’s” relatively short running time (99 mins), fast-pace and summer-style action combined with a terrific marketing campaign made this one a late-July winner.

At number three is Universal’s family animated favorite “Despicable Me” which has now crossed the $160 million mark in just 17 days of release.  With $23.7 million for the weekend, a 28% drop and another strong set of mid-week grosses, the film is being embraced by the family crowd and the date crowd alike and the results have been spectacular. Look for this one to remain a staple of the top five and the top ten for many weeks to come.

In the fourth spot is Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with $9.7 million in its second weekend of release and a domestic total of $42.6 million.  The film has benefitted from its PG-rating since it is the newest of a string of such rated live action adventures following as it has in the wake of Sony’s “The Karate Kid” and Paramount’s “The Last Airbender.”

Residing in the top five for the sixth straight week with another $8.9 million is the incredible Disney/Pixar 2010 box office favorite “Toy Story 3.”  Adding to a really bad week for Mel Gibson, “Toy Story 3” on Friday passed “The Passion of the Christ” to now become the 14th highest grossing film of all-time and by the end of the weekend leap-frogged over both “Spider-Man 2” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” to become now the 12th highest grossing film of all-time with $379.4 million!  Notable as well that it is the highest grossing film of the year and the summer thus far.  Congratulations to both Disney and Pixar on this amazing and well-deserved achievement.

Debuting just outside of the top five is Fox’s G-rated family film “Ramona and Beezus,” based on the best-selling books by Beverly Cleary.  Delivering $7.8 million, the film should eventually wind up profitable with its modest budget and strong eventual home video potential.  As one of only two wide release G-rated films in the marketplace (along with “Toy Story 3”), the film will hopefully continue to find favor with audiences looking for a true family experience at the movie theatre.

A month of “up” weekends vs. last year has improved the summer box office outlook considerably and takes the YTD revenue advantage up to 4.5% over last year and the Summer-to-date advantage on revenue up to 3%.  Attendance, while still lagging behind last summer has had a boost over the past few weeks and as a result is only at a 3.4% deficit vs. a 4.3% downturn through last weekend.  This weekend look for “Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore” in 3D (PG) from Warner Bros., “Charlie St. Cloud” starring Zac Efron from Universal and from Paramount, “Dinner For Schmucks” starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd.