Original Inception Dreams Up Three-Peat
By John Hamann
August 1, 2010
When was the last time a non-sequel, non-3D film ruled the box office for three consecutive weekends? Since we can toss both Alice in Wonderland and Avatar, we have to go all the way back to summer 2008 – the middle of August - for Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder (how's that for a water cooler trivia question?). Inception rolled past three new releases this weekend: the unnecessary sequel Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore, Dinner for Schmucks, a discomfort-comedy, and Charlie St. Cloud, starring my favorite idiot, Zac Efron, who turned down a quick-win career-saver with the Footloose remake.
Our number one film - for the third weekend in a row - is Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Nolan, and the fabulous Inception. After an opening weekend of $62.8 million, and a fantastic follow up gross of $42.7 million (a drop of only 32%), my faith in the North American movie-goer was redeemed. There's more good news for the $160 million Warner Bros. flick this weekend, as Inception earned another $27.5 million, giving it a solid hold as it drops 36%. Inception also has seen some stellar mid-week figures. The dreamy thriller earned a remarkable $37 million from Monday-to-Thursday following its opening, and another $23 million from Monday-to-Thursday last week. Inception has now powered to $193.3 million, and will cross the $200 million mark some time next week. Inception is now DiCaprio's biggest film – following Titanic, of course.
I wrote above how Inception was the first non-sequel, non-3D flick since Tropic Thunder to three-peat, but they are very different films, in concept as well as box office. Tropic Thunder opened much smaller, at $25.8 million, and dropped to $16.3 million in its second weekend. Its third weekend was only $11.5 million. The previous original three-peater, Disturbia, did even smaller business in 2007. The film that really launched Shia LaBeouf opened to $22.2 million, fell 41% to $13 million, and then led the box office with a tiny gross of $9 million in its third frame. The trend usually shows that films three-peat only over extremely slow box office periods, but Inception is different. 2006's Night at the Museum, released over the busy Christmas frame, is really the best comparison. Night grossed $30.4 million over its first frame, and increased on its opening score by 21% (obviously over Christmas week) to $36.8 million over its second, but still managed a strong third weekend at $23.7 million. It was also an effects-driven film; however, it was aimed at a much younger audience than that of Inception.
Dinner for Schmucks lands in a surprise second spot this weekend, as it finishes closer to the last live action Steve Carell flick, Date Night, than expected. Schmucks earned $23.3 million from 2,911 venues, giving it an average of $8,004. The Paramount/DreamWorks entry was actually the number one film on Friday night, but gave way to Inception as the weekend continued – openers are usually stronger on opening day than holdovers, but then tend to fall back as the weekend continues.