Film Weekend Per Total
1 Inception $43,505,000 (-30.7%) $11,473 $143,663,000
2 Salt $36,500,000 $10,105 $36,500,000
3 Despicable Me $24,100,000 (-26.5%) $6,694 $161,700,000
4 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice $9,685,000 (-45.0%) $2,764 $42,643,000
5 Toy Story 3 $9,030,000 (-24.7%) $3,265 $379,529,000
6 Ramona and Beezus $8,000,000 $2,942 $8,000,000
7 Grown Ups $7,600,000 (-23.3%) $2,658 $142,412,000
8 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $7,033,000 (-47.6%) $2,253 $279,674,000
9 The Last Airbender $4,173,000 (-46.2%) $1,962 $123,264,000
10 Predators $2,850,000 (-59.4%) $1,544 $46,568,000

This just in: And as our former president Gerald Ford once said “Wu Tang clan ain’t nothing to fuck with.”

I don’t like sniping at other columnists – though I assume none of them read my writing – but I’m always interested to see what David Poland, Jeffery Wells and Nikki Finke have to say about the box office. Right now we’re seeing David Poland downplay the success of Inception. I think the difference between what I write and what David does is that I have no interest in being right, so I would never stake anything on how something does. I thought Sorcerer’s Apprentice would hit at the beginning of summer, but that didn’t happen, my numbers (which I post before the weekend) are often off the mark. But then so are most.  

Here are the sides of it. Inception was not a cheap movie by any stretch of the imagination. With a listed production budget of $160 Million, if we go by the 2x to profitability rule of thumb then even if it does $200 domestic it’s still going to need international and ancillary to break even – and those numbers don’t include a healthy advertising budget. But if you ignore how much the film supposedly cost and look at the performance on the film, then you can see what people are responding to in calling this something of a runaway success or a miracle. This is one of the few original materials of the summer and between it and Despicable Me doing well – and some name brands shitting the bed – there’s a real sense that people are getting a little tired of having their childhood sold back to them, the 3-D marketing gimmicks, etc. But even more than that, even with a $63 Million opening weekend, there was no sense that the film would hit a hundred in the first seven days and with such healthy weekday numbers. That suggests this is a different animal. Something confirmed by the film not dropping 40% or more in its second weekend. Which is rare to say the least.(Toy Story 3 was off 46% opening weekend). And  if most production numbers are bullshit (and Inception may have cost $200 or more), then the only thing to respond to is how an audience liked it. And with that drop and weekday numbers, then Inception is the film of the moment, and may very well continue its run next weekend at the top of the chart. But then, back to how it’s doing. Right now $200 is in the bank, and should be close to that next weekend (say $180), and it’s not done. Will people keep going back? Right now international – which is just starting – is nearly at a hundred million, so if we’e going with 2x $160, by next weekend the film should be at numbers that show break even or profitable. Though it might be a hard sell in foreign territories, it’s not doing poorly to begin with (foreign cume currently $84 Million). And – in terms of unreasonable expectations, the only real film of comparison is The Dark Knight for anyone involved, as post-Titanic Leonardo Dicaprio has only made $100+ films with Spielberg and Scorsese. The Prestige flailed domestically, and all the other name players are arthouse kids – was anyone expecting this to do Juno numbers? And if you’re going to talk about real numbers and production budgets, etc. etc. It gets so boring, because Inception is doing better than – say – Robin Hood or The Karate Kid, or whatever. The problem is that everything is different. And if there is a foreseeable pattern in what gets dismissed and what gets praised, even if the differences are marginal, then bias is revealed. And though I surely have mine, I try not to read them into the numbers. But then there’s the “Melanie defense,” which is why I read some of the other commentators. The Melanie defense – as Ordell Robie once said – is that “You can’t trust Melanie, but you can always trust Melanie to be Melanie.”

Salt had a thoroughly okay opening, but it’s a picture that will need international to be considered a win. Next weekend it should be off at least half, and I wouldn’t count on $100 domestic. It might get there, but – again – don’t count on it. This feels like an opening weekend picture, but the word ranges from “it’s okay” to “it’s really stupid.” Despicable Me is doing real bang up business and should easily clear $200 if it keeps holding steady. Of all the Universal films to hit, this seems half a surprise.

Ouch, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It didn’t get any better for anyone. I guess it could have dropped 70% or something, but it would have had to open for that to happen. Toy Story 3 is on its way to $400, but when that happens it should slow to nothingness. The international summer numbers are all screwy because of the World Cup, so the film just opened in London and other markets. Fox showed they didn’t really care about the cheaply-produced Ramona and Beezus. I’m sort of offended by this because – like a generation of people – I grew up on these books. This could have been an event, but instead Fox half-assed it because it’s so girl-centric. They won’t lose money – it’ll make its money on home video, where it will likely be good enough. Grown Ups keeps playing. Maybe The Other Guys cuts its legs off, but $160 or more is happening. Real strong, steady play there. Eclipse is winding down – may hit $300 million, may not. Last Airbender may hit $140, but $150 is out of reach and Predators is on the limp to $50. Say good night. Then say “My Cherie Amour.”