‘Inception’ tops weekend box office

Nolan pic heads north of $60 million

The weekend domestic B.O. was wide awake as Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ dream-themed “Inception,” from helmer Christopher Nolan and toplining Leonardo DiCaprio, scored a standout estimate of $60.4 million at 3,792 locations.

The frame’s other wide release, Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” estimated a soporific $17.4 million over the weekend, with the pic’s five-day totals reaching just $24.5 million.

Specialty pic “The Kids Are All Right,” from Focus Features, continued to make headway in the indie realm, trumpeting a per-screen average of $27,036 at 38 engagements in its second outing. Last weekend, “Kids” debuted with the year’s highest per-screen average of $70,282 at seven locations. Pic’s cume stands at $1.8 million.

Warner and Disney both began limited overseas rollouts for their respective pics this weekend to avoid competing with a slew of hefty holdovers in post-World Cup maneuvering.

“Apprentice” launched day and date in 13 territories, repping approximately 10% of the international market, with a modest $8.3 million. “Inception” fared better internationally, tallying an estimated $15.6 million in seven markets. In the U.K., the film took in $8.6 million from 451 screens and repped 40% of the market’s overall business among the top five players.

Boosted Stateside by a $3 million jumpstart in midnight runs, “Inception” held even from Friday to Saturday, even with the opening day’s latenight take.

“We did something that’s unique,” said Warner prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman. “We actually peaked the day that the film opened.”

Tracking for “Inception” saw a steady rise in the days leading up to its release, Fellman noted, especially among its core aud of young males. Pic drew an overwhelming turnout (73%) of auds aged 34 and under and a slight 56% preference with men.

Imax earned an impressive $700,000 during midnight screenings for “Inception” and an overall $7 million on 197 Imax screens, repping 12% of the total weekend tally. Summit’s latest “Twilight” installment “Eclipse” repped the most recent film to get the Imax treatment, which earned only 5% of its opening gross from Imax screens.

Format, which accounted for less than 3% of “Inception’s” total screen count, was an ideal fit for the pic’s targeted male demo, said Imax prexy-chairman Greg Foster. “Its style and our DNA really fit,” Foster noted.

“Inception” scored an overall B+ CinemaScore rating, but the film’s core demo gave it a slight upgrade. And while early word-of-mouth rated the film highly, some B.O. pundits question whether its dense storytelling will stunt its longevity, especially in smaller urban markets. As expected, it played best this weekend in cities like New York and L.A., but also saw healthy turnouts in Boston, San Francisco and Seattle.

Rated PG-13, Pic stars DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy and Ken Watanabe in a tale about a team specialists hired to steal from a person’s subconscious. Warner said it plans to highlight pic’s love story between DiCaprio and his wife, played by Marion Cotillard, in upcoming TV spots as an attempt to attract more femmes.

“Inception’s” bow marks the second weekend after Universal’s “Despicable Me” that an original title overperformed at the box office. Warners’ non-sequel, budged at $160 million, took in an impressive opening haul, given the film’s 2½ runtime and intricate narrative.

In its second outing, “Despicable” dropped just 42% for an estimated weekend take of $32.7 million, cuming an impressive $118.4 million.

Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” debuting behind “Despicable Me,” scored an overall B+ CinemaScore rating, but failed to gain as much traction with auds.

“Apprentice,” starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Jon Turteltaub, launched to a lukewarm $3.9 million on Wednesday. Pic showed some resilience on Thursday, grossing $3.2 million, down just 15% from the previous day.

Disney moved up the film’s release to benefit from younger auds on summer vacation, as well as to likely distance it from the frame’s other wide release “Inception.” “Apprentice” played best with auds 25 and over (55%) compared to “Inception’s” younger crowd, but both films skewed toward male auds.

“The B+ rating suggests that audiences liked (‘Apprentice’) and are talking about it,” said Disney distrib topper Chuck Viane. “But for whatever reason we missed.”

“Apprentice” marks the second disappointing launch this summer for a Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer collaboration, following “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” which debuted with a three-day total of $30.1 million and has cumed an estimated $89.3 million domestically. “Prince,” however, has performed more robustly on the international front ($237.4 million), meaning “Apprentice” might similarly find more magic overseas. Disney will expand “Apprentice’s” overseas rollout in most European markets throughout August and early September.

Also performing well in repeat frames, “Eclipse” tallied an estimated $13.5 million in its third frame for a cume of $264.9 million, while Disney’s “Toy Story 3” in its fifth frame raked in $11.7 million. Domestic totals for “Toy 3” reached $362.7 million, with foreign box office receipts totaling $267.5 million. Toon’s overseas take this weekend was $32.9 million, down 8% from last weekend.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox’s sci-fi reboot “Predators” fell 73% in its soph sesh at the domestic B.O. for a modest $6.8 million. Pic’s cume stands at $40.1 million.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight continued its aggressive rollout of indie hit “Cyrus” to 446 engagements. Dropping 16% compared to last weekend, pic scored $1.1 million and a modest per-screen average of $2,410.

Searchlight attributed the down perf to fewer screenings in larger multiplexes like Arclight, which favored the frame’s wide releases.

Oscilloscope debuted its Stephen Rea-starrer “Kisses” at two locations, averaging $7,310 per screen for a weekend total of $14,620.

After a solid start last weekend, Music Box’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire” expanded to 118 playdates for a per-screen average of $4,852. The Swedish-lingo sequel totaled $572,590 over the weekend, bringing its cume to $1.7 million.

Several holdovers continue to make headway overseas, including Paramount-Dreamworks Animations’ 3D toon “Shrek Forever After,” which totaled an estimated $52.2 million in 57 territories on 8,063 screens.

Toon expanded to 10 additional markets this weekend — Mexico being the largest — and has cumed $292.5 million. Mexican auds shelled out $8.4 million on 824 screens, followed by the U.K., where in its third frame, “Shrek” totaled $7 million on 870 for a cume of $37.7 million.Fox continued its international rollout of Tom Cruise-starrer “Knight and Day” to 19 additional territories, totaling 49, with an estimated weekend gross of $20 million. Overseas cume for “Knight” reached $63.5 million.Studio held the adult-themed film in most territories to avoid competing with the World Cup. In Spain, “Knight” tallied $2.5 million on 503 screens, while in another World Cup-crazed market, Brazil, the pic earned $2.7 million on 322. “Knight” expands to 10 more markets next weekend, including Germany.

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