'Other Guys' bumps 'Inception' from top spot

'Step Up 3D' underwhelms at No. 3; 'St. Cloud' falls to No. 8

Sony's buddy-cop action comedy "The Other Guys" copped more boxoffice than any other movie during the weekend, as the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg shoot-'em-up heisted an estimated $35.6 million in opening loot.

Warner Bros.' leggy fantasy thriller "Inception" fell to second place after three frames atop the domestic rankings, with its $18.6 million weekend pushing cumulative coin for the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer to $227.7 million. Disney's threequel dance musical "Step Up 3D" bowed below expectations with a disappointing $15.5 million in third place.

But the session's clearest industry talking point: a profitable launch for the latest iteration of one of Hollywood's most tried and true film formulas. (Touting a decades-long string of buddy-cop pics, MovieTickets surveyed online customers for favorite duos last week and found Will Smith and Martin Lawrence top choice with 1995's "Bad Boys.")

Directed by Adam McKay, "Guys" was produced for an estimated $85 million.

In a tweet to fans, McKay posted the pic's No. 1 debut on Twitter and expressed a "huge sigh of relief and gratitude to audiences." The helmer introduced a "Guys" performance at Hollywood's Arclight cinema on Saturday.

The "Guys" opening was among the biggest debuts ever for Ferrell and Wahlberg, though a personal best for neither. Ferrell's only bigger bow came with the $47 million first-weekend tally for 2006's McKay-helmed "Talledega Nights"; Wahlberg starred in 2000's $41.3 million opener "The Perfect Storm" and was part of the ensemble cast enjoying a $68.5 million launch with 2001's "Planet of the Apes."

"It was a really sweet opening," Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer said. "Mark and Will have been everywhere and really worked hard to open this movie so successfully."

Hit comedies tend to play longer than other film genres -- ditto kill-'em-with-yucks action comedies -- and relatively broad audience demographics during its inaugural frame also hint at a leggy run for "Guys." Opening audiences for the PG-13 pic skewed 56% male, with 55% of patrons under age 25.

The poor bow by "Step Up 3D" a week after a dreary debut for Warners’ 3D family sequel "Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" will have some wondering if 3D appeal is in decline. But with broadly downbeat reviews for both pics, the industry maxim that 3D can't make a bad pic good may be more relevant.

Also, only 1,826 of a total 2,435 theaters playing "Step Up 3D" offered the pic in 3D, due to an insufficient number of 3D screens in the marketplace. So the light 3D screen count would seem partly to blame for the movie's disappointing debut, as the whole point of producing a threequel was to revitalize the youth-targeting franchise with extra-dimensional imagery.

Nobody had been claiming franchise momentum: The original "Step Up" unspooled with $20.7 million to fetch $65.3 million overall domestically, but a first sequel bowed in February 2008 with just $18.9 million and grossed only $58 million in total U.S. and Canadian coin.

Notably, 3D screens playing "Step Up 3D" contributed two and a half times the boxoffice as its 2D screens.

"In its exit interviews, Cinema Score's surveys showed an A-minus for the 3D screens," Disney distribution topper Chuck Viane said. "So people did make a conscious decision to see it in 3D, and they loved it."

"Step Up 3D" still could find its way into profitability, as production costs were relatively modest. Co-financed 50-50 by Summit Entertainment, the threequel totes a negative cost estimated at less than $40 million.

Opening audiences for the PG-13 pic were comprised 60% of females, with 70% of patrons under age 25.

Elsewhere at the boxoffice, three holdover films marked so-so sophomore sessions:

     -- Paramount's PG-13 comedy "Dinner for Schmucks" fell 55% to $10.5 million in fifth place
        with a $46.7 million cume.

     -- "Kitty Galore" dipped a more modest 44% to $6.9 million in seventh with $26.4 million in
         cume.

     -- Universal's romantic fantasy "Charlie St. Cloud" tumbled a big 62% to $4.7 million in
         eighth with cume of $23.5 million.

Collectively, the weekend top 10 rung up $118 million, or 7% less than top performers in last year's comparable frame for the first industry downtick in almost two months, Rentrak said.

Among limited bows, Warners unspooled Rob Reiner's period romantic drama "Flipped" with 45 playdates in three markets and rung up $234,000, or a sturdy $5,200 per engagement.

Porn-industry dramedy "Middle Men," from Paramount Vantage and Oxymoron, debuted in 252 locations and fetched $305,000, or a thin $1,210 per site.

IFC Films' romantic drama "Cairo Time" opened in five theaters in New York and L.A. and grossed $62,250, or an encouraging $12,450 per location.

And Sony Pictures Classics bowed war drama "Lebanon" with a pair of New York playdates to register $16,768, or a solid $8,384 per engagement.

Looking ahead, three movies open wide on Friday: Sony's Julia Roberts starrer "Eat, Pray, Love," Lionsgate's ensemble actioner "The Expendables" and Universal's action fantasy "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."
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