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“Salt” adds flavor but “Inception” has more kick

Angelina Jolie proved she’s still got box-office allure this weekend but it wasn’t enough to knock fellow Academy member Leonardo DiCaprio off the theater throne. Inception had a win within a win; rather, the layered cinematic experience came in at number one for the second week in a row. Salt put some zest in the top ten lineup, finishing at number two this weekend. Ramona and Beezus, a children’s tale based on a popular book series, was easily trumped by fellow family competition; it landed at number six.

Somewhere, Christopher Nolan is dreaming sweet dreams of money bags and nonlinear plot devices. Inception has become Nolan’s first big commercial success with an original concept. His previous non-Batman films Memento and The Prestige were critical hits but the box office hauls for those two were nothing spectacular at $25 million and $53 million respectively. Inception, in comparison, has grossed $143 million in its first 10 days.

The dream heist story stole $43.5 million in ticket sales this weekend. Given next week’s newbies include a kid picture, a drama and a comedy, Inception should remain the top action flick in the top ten. Popcorn entertainer Salt, originally intended to star Tom Cruise, added a sprinkling of $36.5 million to weekend revenues. Interestingly, Cruise film Knight and Day dropped off the charts to number twelve.

The Top Ten

  1. 1. Inception - $43.5M (weekend)… $143.6M (gross)
  2. 2. Salt - $36.5M…$36.5M
  3. 3. Despicable Me - $24.1M… $161.7M
  4. 4. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice - $9.6M…$42.6M
  5. 5. Toy Story 3 - $9.0M … $379.5M
  6. 6. Ramona and Beezus - $8.0M… $8.0 M
  7. 7. Grown Ups - $7.6M… $142.4M
  8. 8. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - $7.0M … $279.6M
  9. 9. The Last Airbender - $4.1M… $123.2M
    10. Predators - $2.8M… $46.5M

Ramona and Beezus just couldn’t mount the odds against Despicable Me and Toy Story 3, two family favorites of the summer. The adaptation had one major limitation: it was geared at girls rather than the general family audience. Unlike The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which appeals to tweens and other females, "Ramona" is decidedly for littler children, limiting its demand. Its modest run of can still earn back its budget (the movie cost only $15 million to make). Salt, on the other hand took approximately $100 million to produce. Sony Studios expects the film to cover its overhead with strong sales overseas. At the moment, Toy Story 3 is the international favorite, besting Inception.

Overall business did get a boost over 2009, however attendance is still lower than usual. This will remain the case as long as studios attempt to force feed cash grab sequels, unnecessary remakes, and other poorly conceived nonsense to smarter-than-their-given-credit-for audiences. The top three movies, Hollywood should note, include products that contain none of those characteristics. People are willing to pay inflated ticket prices for a higher quality experience.

Next week's sequel Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore bombards audiences at 3,700 locations proving Hollywood has much faith in its most terrible concoctions. Charlie St. Cloud, Zac Efron’s second attempt at a serious dramatic role, drifts into 2,500 venues. Finally, Dinner for Schmucks, a comedy about idiots starring Steve Carell stumbles into 2,500 cinemas as well.


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