SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Inception’ shakes ‘Salt’

Posted by · 4:15 pm · July 25th, 2010

*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Despite the collective nerd consciousness being zeroed in on the events happening in San Diego, there were enough nerds elsewhere to propel “Inception” to a second week at the top of the box office. Actually that’s unfair, it’s not just nerds who are seeing the movie as Christopher Nolan’s dreamscape now looks to be the leggy, late summer blockbuster that nerds and Warner Bros. always hoped it would be. If it gets my Mom to go, then it’ll be a downright phenomenon, but the last non-animated film she saw was probably “Mamma Mia!.”

Alright, “Inception” dropped a petite 31% to $43.5 million and easily walked away with what I predicted would be a close race at the box office. For comparison, “The Dark Knight” dropped 53% in its second weekend, but that was coming off a much, much higher figure and it eventually settled into 35-40% drops after that. If “Inception” continues at this pace or better, it could make a decent pass at $300 million. To put those legs into perspective, you would have to go back six years to “Meet the Fockers” to find a film that crossed that threshold with a debut under $65 million.

“The Other Guys” will take a bit of the audience away, but other than that, I don’t see much in terms of competition. While remakes and sequels continue to post one and done weekend numbers and get people talking, it’s nice to see “Avatar” and “Inception” showing that original properties are the ones that keep them talking.

“Salt” debuted right on target with $36.5 million, which is better than the $25.6 million debut for fellow late July, Liev Schreiber thriller “The Manchurian Candidate.” It’s not quite in the same league as “Wanted,” but I’m pretty sure the bullets in “Salt” fly straight so obviously that’s going to knock off a couple million from the gross.

Regardless, Jolie and company should have enough firepower to cross $100 million and become another in a long line of films that are quickly rendering that threshold meaningless (cough, “Robin Hood” and “Valentine’s Day”).

“Despicable Me” fell a spectacular 27% and recorded another weekend above $20 million. It’s still well ahead of the pace of “How to Train Your Dragon” and it should be noted for both of them that the only animated non-sequels to cross $200 million and NOT get an Oscar nomination were “Madagascar” and “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” fell 45% and is having a box office run so relentlessly, aggressively forgettable that I can’t come up with anything else to say about it. Next!

“Ramona and Beezus” opened in sixth place and Wal-Mart DVD manufacturers are already prepping the 2 for 1 pack it’ll slide in with “Dunston Checks In.” That’s what an $8.0 million debut gets you. Oh, and “Toy Story 3” will become the highest grossing film in that franchise, and Pixar’s second biggest, some time tomorrow. Writers are hard at work on a fourth film where Woody will be shocked to discover that he’s being replaced by Shia LaBeouf.

“The Kids Are All Right” is still pulling in huge numbers, now on just over 200 screens, while “Cyrus” has significantly lost steam and probably didn’t do enough to warrant awards traction. Shame.

I didn’t see anything except a screening of “High Noon” at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Classic film, classic Los Angeles experience I highly recommend to any of you film buffs breezing through town and looking for activities.

What did you guys see? Here are this week’s top grossing films courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

→ 26 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

26 responses so far

  • 1 7-25-2010 at 4:33 pm

    Ali E. said...

    Just a note… Shark Tale was nominated.

  • 2 7-25-2010 at 4:40 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Yeah, I was about to say the same thing. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen that mistake either, which really shows you how much people want to forget the thing was nominated…

  • 3 7-25-2010 at 4:49 pm

    Ky said...

    Meet the Fockers topped out at 279 mil.

  • 4 7-25-2010 at 5:32 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    ky adjusted numbers!!!!!

  • 5 7-25-2010 at 5:50 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    Umm, Toy Story 3 is already the highest-grossing Toy Story movie (by far) and it eclipsed Finding Nemo a while back to become Pixar’s highest-grossing film domestically.

    Anyway, wildly impressive performance by Inception. It’s not too surprising, it’s a movie you want to see more than once but still, such a small drop is such a rare thing to see these days.

    One last thing worth mentioning is that the top four movies are all originals, which is unusual and refreshing. True, you could probably argue whether or not Salt is particularly original, but at least it’s not based on a comic book or tv show, a prequel or a sequel, etc.

  • 6 7-25-2010 at 6:37 pm

    The Other Ryan said...

    Dustin Checks In. Yes.

  • 7 7-25-2010 at 6:40 pm

    Aaron G said...

    seen inception twice and there was nary a nerd either time. even the midnight premiere showing had scarce geeks in attendance. it was about 40% hipster, 50% people you’d expect to see out clubbing the following night, and 10% miscellaneous. and the fact that the movie is still #1 during comic-con says something. the movie may be sci-fi, but the fact there aren’t any dudes wearing tights is probably alienating to the comic-con crowd.

  • 8 7-25-2010 at 6:51 pm

    Estefan said...

    “One last thing worth mentioning is that the top four movies are all originals, which is unusual and refreshing.” The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is partly inspired by the poem as well as the sequence from Fantasia. Heck, Disney even used Mickey and the Paul Dukas music in the advertising.

  • 9 7-25-2010 at 6:58 pm

    Jacob S. said...

    Aspect Ratio: You missed the note on top about how all numbers are adjusted for inflation.

    Anyway, I didn’t see anything this weekend since “Salt” looked uninteresting and i’ve already seen all the releases I wanted to. I’m looking forward to “Get Low” and “Dinner for Schmucks” next week and “Flipped” and “The Other Guys” the week after that.

  • 10 7-25-2010 at 7:44 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Shark Tale was nominated? Christ.

  • 11 7-25-2010 at 7:46 pm

    RichardA said...

    I wonder what new insights came up on the second viewing of The Inception.

  • 12 7-25-2010 at 7:58 pm

    DCist said...

    Using adjusted numbers is like rewriting history.

  • 13 7-25-2010 at 8:17 pm

    Hans said...

    It’s always a tricky thing, methinks, when to use adjusted numbers. Chad uses it to measure attendance, which I agree should be the only objective way to measure a movie’s success. One could argue about how the climate of movies have changed and it’s a different era and movies would never be setting records anymore, but all that hasn’t changed how the music industry charts album sales. One of my quibbles with adjusting is that in the future, all the 2010 films, 3D or not, will be adjusted by the same factor, and that’s just going to be a flat out wrong indicator of attendance. Future adjusted lists will show that Alice in Wonderland sold more tickets than Iron Man 2, which I’m pretty sure is not the case.

  • 14 7-25-2010 at 8:22 pm

    damon said...

    I think 150 million in the new 100 miilion. Movies like valentines day show that 100 million isnt big, but 150 million is still somewhat hard to reach

  • 15 7-25-2010 at 8:26 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Damon- agreed.

  • 16 7-25-2010 at 8:32 pm

    JJ said...

    Saw Salt. It was OK, but Angie was great fun.

    Inception: haven’t seen it twice, yet, but I will.

    And I FINALLY encountered my first person who wasn’t wild about it.

    — “Made my head hurt midway through”. —

    She’s the 1st person out of, like, 15, I’ve personally spoken to who wasn’t wild about it. Pretty crazy.

    Next week I’m looking for The Kids are Alright and Charlie St. Cloud (so sue me, the trailer got me).

  • 17 7-25-2010 at 8:38 pm

    Adam M. said...

    I hate that you use adjusted numbers too, Chad. The calculation of adjusted totals is dead wrong unless you use regional sales data and weighted averages (which no one does use). And even then it’s an iffy science, what with external variables such as inflation rate and economic integrity influencing the overall financial picture.

    I swore that ‘Inception’ wouldn’t hold and ‘Salt’ would do gangbusters. Please excuse me while I go eat my hat.

    And we’re back. I’ve heard that ‘Inception’ is still selling out showtimes tonight, and the word-of-mouth wave continues to grow. ‘Salt’ seemed to have a dip in buzz right before release. That ugly green splat on RT surely doesn’t help… even though Angie has a favorable 65 on Metacritic (my aggregator of choice). That ‘Wanted’ is fresh on RT and ‘Salt’ is not–it’s simply a farce.

    Then again, I wasn’t nearly as taken by ‘Inception’ as the general movie-going crowd seems to be. I wish ‘Salt’ legs–she sure did earn them–but I think ‘Inception’ may have stolen some of her action/thriller cash-in. Next week, ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ should be embraced as respite from all the serious business and kiddie flicks (case in point: check out that hold on ‘Grown-Ups’ this week).

  • 18 7-25-2010 at 8:45 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Read the article I wrote that’s linked at the top of the column. Regular box office is no exact science either. The point of the write-ups is to analyze the performance of the film and the best way I deem to do that is to adjust similar films from the past. Take as much of a grain of salt along with it as you must.

  • 19 7-26-2010 at 7:50 am

    Frank Lee said...

    J.J. wrote: “I FINALLY encountered my first person who wasn’t wild about [‘Inception’]. . . . She’s the 1st person out of, like, 15, I’ve personally spoken to who wasn’t wild about it. Pretty crazy.”
    Really? I sat through it grumpily and assumed most everyone else was doing the same. What I find most surprising about the postive (and negative) response is the notion that the film requires great concentration. Aside from keeping the layers of dreams straight, which isn’t exactly an intellectually rewarding exercise, I won’t see what thought is required. The movie isn’t really ABOUT anything. Even a silly movie like “Avatar” purports to be about colonialism. “Wall-E” was about the threat to the environment. “The Matrix” (with nods to Christianity and Buddhism) was about breaking your indentured servitude to the physical world, which is a mere illusion. “Inception” reminds me of the “Benjamin Button” movie: technically accomplished, but no resonance. Who among us is jonesing to see “Benjamin Button” again?

  • 20 7-26-2010 at 9:00 am

    Ben M. said...

    Damon, I’d go even further and say $200 million is the new standard a film has to reach before it is a blockbuster, with budgets now tentpole films could even easily lose money on $200 million domestic.

    But this is a great hold for Inception and points to a very solid final run, I’m now probably putting the film in my BP predictions even if the genre and some reviews from major critics (who usually have the most oscar sway) keep me from seeing it as a slam-dunk nominee.

  • 21 7-26-2010 at 11:15 am

    Speaking English said...

    “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is an excellent film.

  • 22 7-26-2010 at 11:41 am

    JJ said...

    Love ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’.

  • 23 7-26-2010 at 8:30 pm

    DarkLayers said...

    Frank Lee, I agree that it shouldn’t be considered crazy not to like “Inception,” but its resonance is up for debate. It’s also in some part about movies.

  • 24 7-26-2010 at 8:32 pm

    DarkLayers said...

  • 25 7-26-2010 at 9:29 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    If someone wanted to capture and torture me, waterboarding wouldn’t be necessary. They would just need to threaten me with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button again and I would tell them all they would need to know.

  • 26 7-27-2010 at 6:23 am

    JJ said...

    lol. I love Benjamin Button, but Robert Hamer, that comment was very funny; I must say.

    And I have my own movie that I’m clearly in the minority with that torture would be having me sit through it again … There Will Be Blood.

    With Inception at 143 mill after 10 days … what can we expect it’s domestic total to reach. And looking at boxofficemojo’s foreign numbers (so far), what about those grand totals? What’s to be expected?