Weekend Report: 'Inception' Keeps Dream Alive
Inception remained lodged in moviegoers' minds for the third weekend in a row, while Dinner for Schmucks yukked it up in second and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore was neutered. Overall business was up 13 percent over the same weekend last year when Funny People led, but was still weak for the time of year.

Slipping just 36 percent, Inception drew $27.5 million, elevating its total to $193.3 million in 17 days. Christopher Nolan's dream caper was the fourth movie of the year to spend three weekends at No. 1, following Avatar, Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Shrek Forever After. Like Shrek, its reign was aided by facing new releases that weren't up to snuff as summer contenders, particularly for this latest weekend.

Inception surpassed Despicable Me to become the seventh highest-grossing movie from 2010. More importantly, it essentially matched the entire runs of comparable titles I, Robot, The Matrix Revolutions and Minority Report in terms of estimated attendance. IMAX presentations accounted for an estimated $3.4 million of Inception's weekend gross (down 29 percent) and $22 million of its total.

Dinner for Schmucks served up $23.5 million on approximately 3,400 screens at 2,911 locations, which was about the same amount as Funny People made on the same weekend last year. The opening was also a step up from I Love You, Man, Role Models and Get Him to the Greek, and it marked a personal best for Paul Rudd in a lead role, though Steve Carell has seen bigger starts. The two actors, who were at the forefront of the advertising (with an assist from lower-billed Zach Galifianakis), previously appeared together in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, though both pictures had greater attendance out of the gate. Distributor Paramount Pictures' exit polling indicated that 55 percent of the audience was male, and 54 percent over 25 years old.

Charlie St. Cloud coasted by with a decent $12.4 million at 2,718 locations, which was superior to Remember Me and just shy of My Sister's Keeper from last summer. Friday accounted for a whopping 45 percent of the Zac Efron vehicle's weekend gross, landing the picture in the Top 30 of the most Friday-loaded opening weekends on record. While severe, that spoke to the picture's rabid young female appeal: distributor Universal Pictures' research showed that 79 percent of the audience was female and 59 percent was under 25 years old.

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore made relatively little scratch, lapping up $12.3 million on around 5,100 screens at 3,705 locations. That was a far yelp from its predecessor Cats & Dogs, which grossed $21.7 million its first weekend (following a mid-week launch) back in July 2001. With 3D presentations at 2,130 locations making up 55 percent of Cats & Dogs 2's business, its estimated weekend attendance was around a third of its predecessor's. The talking-animal sequel's start was also a fraction of the similar G-Force from last July, and it was even relatively worse than Underdog from around the same time in 2007. Sequels in this genre rarely fare well compared to their predecessors (Garfield, Scooby-Doo, Stuart Little, etc.), and Cats & Dogs 2 further suffered from a long lapse in time and from being a sequel that no one asked for. Distributor Warner Bros. reported that audience was 54 percent male and 46 percent under 18 years old.

For more Dinner for Schmucks, Cats & Dogs and Charlie St. Cloud analysis, click here to read the Weekend Briefing.

Last weekend's big debut, Salt, took a standard hit in its second weekend. The Angelina Jolie action picture retreated 46 percent to $19.5 million, lifting its total to $71 million in ten days and tracking slightly behind The Bourne Identity's attendance through the same point.

Despicable Me didn't wilt in the face of the ultimately mousy Cats & Dogs 2, which tried to steal its 3D family thunder. Down 35 percent, the animated comedy earned $15.5 million, growing its tally to a stellar $190.3 million in 24 days. The top draw from 2010, Toy Story 3, slipped 43 percent to $5.1 million, increasing its sum to a mighty $389.8 million in 45 days.

Off 39 percent to $4.5 million, Grown Ups was still in the mix and crossed the $150 million mark on its 38th day. Meanwhile, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse extended its lead over predecessor New Moon through the same point, pushing its total up to $288.2 million in 33 days.

Related Story

Weekend Briefing: 'Cats & Dogs,' 'Schmucks,' 'Charlie' Shoot for the Middle

Last Weekend

'Inception' Maintains Grip, 'Salt' Savors Second Place

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2009 - 'Funny People' More Pauper Than King of Comedy
• 2008 - 'Dark Knight' Soars Past $400 Million

• 2007 - 'Bourne Ultimatum' Accepted

• 2006 - 'Talladega Nights' Goes Fast to No. 1

• 2005 - 'Dukes' Charge the Top Spot, Emperors 'March' On
Related Charts

Weekend Box Office Results

• Talking Animal Opening Weekends

• All Time Friday Share of Opening Weekend

• 2010 Grosses