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“Schmucks” Rule, “Dogs” drool and dreamers do prosper

For the second weekend in a row a children’s film failed to win the top spot at the box office. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore was the widest release of the weekend but only managed to land at number six in the top ten. Inception maintained the dominant position, edging out new entry Dinner for Schmucks by a few million dollars. Charlie St. Cloud was a bit low to the ground with a fifth place finish.

Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd led the cast of Dinner for Schmucks, a remake based on French film The Dinner Game. Critic Robert Ebert praised the new imagining as being less hardhearted than the original. Audiences agreed to the tune of $23 million. Carrell is a consistent player in Hollywood
 though not a heavy hitter. His past three major releases and live action films have neared or surpassed the $100-million threshold.

“Cats and Dogs” is the second movie geared at child audiences to bottom at the polls. Talking-animal film Marmaduke tanked just two months ago, so the poor showing should not be a surprise. The sequel to the 2001 tale garnered approximately $12.2 million. This is better, though not by much, than Ramona and Beezus’ $8 million debut last week (it also held sixth place).

In a close turnaround Charlie St. Cloud bested Cats and Dogs with $12.3 million . Romantic dramas are a fickle genre with a few big hits, many striking the middle, and the majority epic failures at charming revenues. This picture was sabotaged by poor marketing. Early trailers emphasized the relationship between Charlie and his dead brother but later previews focused on Charlie’s relationship with a girl that could help him start over.  It was too little and too late to grab the female market.

The Top Ten

1. 1. Inception $27.4M (weekend)… $193.3M (gross)

2. 2. Dinner for Schmucks $23.5M… $23.5M

3. 3. Salt $19.4M… $71.0M

4. 4. Despicable Me $15.5M… $190.3M

5. 5. Charlie St. Cloud $12.3M… $12.3M

6. 6. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore $12.2M… $12.2M

7. 7. Toy Story 3 $5.1M… $389.7M

8. 8. Grown Ups $4.5M… $150.7M

9. 9. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice $4.4M… $52.0M

10. 10. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $4.0M… $288.1M

Next week another comedy will go head to head against holdover Dinner for Schmucks. The Other Guys is an action comedy starring funnyman Will Ferrell and straight guy Mark Wahlberg as overlooked cops who catch a headline case. Ferrell has box office spunk when pared with Director Adam McKay. Their previous partnerships Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and Anchorman did pretty well in theaters over the past six years.

Step Up 3-D will be the third effort in the dance franchise to hit screens. The previous incarnations Step Up and Step Up 2 the Streets averaged $61 million grosses. The storyline is always the same but Buena Vista has now added the 3-D amenity in hopes of bigger bucks (it worked for The Final Destination after all). More than likely the studio will have its wish, and one or both new entries will dethrone Inception next weekend.

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