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Mutts and morons join ‘Inception’ at B.O.

'Dinner for Schmucks,' 'Cats & Dogs' enter box office

A diverse menu of new entries and a few tasty holdovers should satisfy various appetites at the weekend’s domestic box office.

Paramount’s laffer “Dinner for Schmucks,” toplining Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, should lure a broad demo led by younger males, bowing at 2,911 locations, while families likely will boost Warner Bros.’ 3D live-action/CGI sequel “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” at 3,705.

Meanwhile, “High School Musical” star Zac Efron should attract plenty of young femmes to “Charlie St. Cloud,” which Universal launches at 2,719 engagements.

Among the frame’s repeat offerings, Warner’s two-time champ “Inception” enters its third frame, while Sony’s Angelina Jolie-starrer “Salt” looks to hold steady in its second outing. “Inception” has cumed $160.5 million through Wednesday; “Salt” has nabbed $48.2 million.

Warner continues its aggressive overseas expansion of “Inception” today, adding 13 markets, including German-speaking Europe, to the pic’s international brigade. Also bowing in Germany is Disney/Pixar’s 3D toon “Toy Story 3,” which topped the international market last weekend with $62 million, followed by “Inception,” earning $58.6 million.

Both films should continue to dominate overseas, as distribs play catch-up following the World Cup soccer tourney. Among the weekend’s U.S. debuts, only Warner’s “Cats & Dogs” launches day-and-date, mostly in smaller Latin American countries.

Focus Features expands “The Kids Are All Right” in an already-crowded frame to 847 locations. Focus attributed the wide expansion to strong early grosses, as well as the need to get in ahead of femme-driven pics, especially “Eat Pray Love,” in the coming weeks. “Kids” should pass $6 million in the U.S. today.

With “Inception” continuing to top midweek Stateside figures, and “Cats & Dogs” playing at 2,130 3D locations, Warner is poised to have a solid weekend at the B.O.

Directed by Brad Peyton, “Cats & Dogs” marks the second offering in Warner’s pet pic franchise, with a voice cast including James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Bette Midler and Christina Applegate.

The earlier pic fetched more than $200 million worldwide in 2001, debuting Stateside with $21.7 million. This time around, the film’s warring animals have called a temporary truce to defeat a common enemy. “Cats & Dogs” should benefit from higher 3D ticket prices, though some families may not be willing to spend the extra coin.

“Schmucks” and “Salt” should provide ample competish, as both are expected to land near the high teens.

Last weekend, “Salt” scored a healthy $36 million debut and has tallied $12.1 million during midweek. Positive word of mouth could broaden the pic’s appeal in repeat frames. During its opening weekend, “Salt” played best to femmes aged 35 and over.

“Schmucks” should also help boost the weekend’s overall B.O., with stars Carell and Rudd. Carell’s “Date Night,” which 20th Century Fox debuted on April 9, opened with $25.2 million and has since cumed a strong $98.5 million. In the remake of a French comedy hit, Carell dumbs it down as one of the title idiots, who is invited to a monthly dinner by an up-and-coming exec (Rudd). Pic co-stars Zach Galifianakis as a fellow schmuck.

Meanwhile, “Charlie St. Cloud” is expected to play tops with young femmes.

Based on Ben Sherwood’s tome “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud,” U’s bigscreen adaptation follows a young man struggling to cope with the death of his younger brother, played by Charlie Tahan. Kim Basinger co-stars as the boys’ mother.

Efron has been drumming up support for the film on a nationwide tour. Earlier this month, the star attracted a turn-away crowd at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn. U said it expects the film to play similarly to Summit’s “Letters to Juliet,” which bowed with $13.5 million on May 14 and has since cumed $52.6 million.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics’ folk tale “Get Low,” starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, launches at four locations in New York and L.A.

The Weinstein Co. also debuts today French-lingo pic “The Concert” at two Stateside locations. Toplining Melanie Laurent and Aleksei Guskov, “Concert” has cumed $28.3 million internationally, with France contributing $14.2 million.

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