'Schmucks' second to 'Inception' at boxoffice

Steve Carell comedy earns solid $23.3 mil, 'Salt' slips to third

Warner Bros.' 3D comedy sequel "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" was out-clawed by two wide-opening rivals, but the studio's leggy pedigree "Inception" finished at the top of the domestic boxoffice during the weekend.

Christopher Nolan-directed "Inception" collected $27.5 million to grab first place for a third straight frame and push cumulative coin for the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer to $193.3 million through its first 17 days. "Kitty" -- the weekend's priciest new release -- proved surprisingly toothless, settling for a fifth place debut with just $12.5 million.

Paramount's Jay Roach-helmed yuck-fest "Dinner for Schmucks" opened solidly with $23.3 million in second place. And Universal's Zac Efron-toplined drama "Charlie St. Cloud" -- a romantic fantasy for teens and tweens -- bowed roughly as expected with $12.1 million in sixth place.

Two pics hitting their sophomore sessions posted relatively modest weekend-over-weekend declines: Sony's action thriller"Salt," starring Angelina Jolie, fell 47% from its opening tally to fetch $19.3 million in third place with a $70.8 million cume; Fox's family comedy "Ramona and Beezus" slid from the top rankings on a 53% decline, to $3.7 million and a $6.3 million cume.

Focus Features' dramatic comedy "The Kids Are All Right" expanded wide in its fourth frame -- to 847 theaters from a previous 201 -- and registered $3.5 million, or a sturdy $4,090 per venue. Boasting a $9.6 million cume, "Kids" will add about 100 more locations Friday.

Collectively, the weekend top 10 rung up $128 million, or 20% more than top performers in a comparable frame last year, Rentrak said.

Among limited bows this session, Sony Pictures Classics unspooled the period dramedy "Get Low" -- starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black -- in two New York locations and two in L.A. to gross $90,954, or an auspicious $22,739 per site.

And the Weinstein Co.'s French- and Russian-language dramedy "The Concert" opened with single playdates in N.Y. and L.A. to gross $20,121, or a tuneful $10,060 per engagement.

Co-produced by Paramount, DreamWorks and Spyglass Entertainment, "Schmucks" stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd and totes an estimated $55 million negative cost. The PG-13 comedy skewed 55% male, with 54% of all patrons aged 25 or older.

"The opening was above or at the high end at what the industry was expecting, but it was pretty much right where we were expecting to be," Paramount exec vp distribution Don Harris said. "The additional good news is that comedies do tend to stick around for a long time."

"Kitty" -- which had been expected to open in one of the top two positions -- featured 2,170 theaters with at least one 3D screen and 3,705 total playdates. Produced for an estimated $85 million with Village Roadshow co-financing, the PG-rated pic attracted opening audiences comprised 54% by males and 71% by tots under 10.

Poor reviews may have contributed to the movie's awful bow, which underperformed its nine-year-old predecessor by 42%. A rival exec suggested 3D's premium pricing can hurt wobbly family releases by making too many venues too expensive, but Warners distribution boss Dan Fellman dismissed the notion by noting most 3D venues also offered "Kitty" in 2D.

"It's disappointing," Fellman said of the opening. "I had hoped it to be in the high teens."

"Cats & Dogs" was presented in 2D only and bowed in July 2001 with $21.7 million, fetching $38 million in its first five days after unspooling ahead of the Independence Day weekend and taking in $93.4 million overall domestically.

Helmed by Burr Steers -- who directed Efron in 2009's "17 Again" -- book-based "St. Cloud" is rated PG-13 and co-stars Amanda Crew ("The Haunting in Connecticut"). Efron plays a young man in love who is conflicted by visions of his dead younger brother.

Costing an estimated $44 million to produce with Relativity Media co-financing, "St. Cloud" drew audiences comprised 79% by females with 59% of patrons under age 25.

"It met expectations based on the pre-weekend tracking," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said.

Looking ahead, two movies open wide on Friday. Sony's cop-actioner spoof "The Other Guys" will try to take a bite out of holdover business for "Schmucks," while Disney's sequel dance musical "Step Up 3D" will seek the same youthful crowd targeted by "St. Cloud."
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