`Inception' Is North America's No. 1 Film Again With $43.5 Million Sales

The science-fiction thriller “Inception” was the top film at U.S. and Canadian theaters for a second consecutive weekend, taking in $43.5 million in ticket sales for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.

The Angelina Jolie action film “Salt” made its debut in second place with $36.5 million for Sony Corp., researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The weekend’s other new film, “Ramona and Beezus,” was sixth with $8 million.

“Inception,” director Christopher Nolan’s first film since “The Dark Knight” was released in 2008, is the third first-place opening for Time Warner this year. Sales were helped by critical praise, getting a favorable evaluation from 156 of 187 reviews compiled on the fan site Rottentomatoes.com.

“It’s two things: fantastic word-of-mouth and solid repeat business,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru LLC. “It’s the kind of movie people want to see a second time. You don’t necessarily absorb everything the first time around.”

The movie stars Leonardo Di Caprio as a member of a special team that enters the dreams of others to steal secrets. Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard co-star. “Inception’s” sales declined 31 percent from last weekend. The typical drop for most releases is 40 percent to 60 percent in the second week, Pandya said.

“It shows that the movie has terrific legs going forward,” he said. “I think it’s going to gross a minimum of $250 million just in North America and it has a reasonable shot of getting close to $300 million.”

‘Salt’

Warner Bros. ranks fourth among major studios in U.S. sales with $960.3 million through July 22, according to Box Office Mojo, a research company in Sherman Oaks, California.

In “Salt,” Jolie plays a CIA agent who goes on the run after she is accused of being a Russian double agent. She must evade pursuers while trying to save the life of her husband. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star.

“Despicable Me,” from NBC Universal, was third with sales of $24.1 million. The animated film tells the story of an underworld creature who conspires to steal the moon and features the voices of Steve Carell and Ken Jeong.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” from Walt Disney Co., was fourth with sales of $9.69 million. The movie stars Nicolas Cage as a sorcerer who recruits a younger aide to help him defend New York from a rival magician.

‘Ramona and Beezus’

“Toy Story 3” was fifth with $9.03 million for Disney’s Pixar studio. The sequel brings back Tom Hanks as the voice of Woody, who leads his toy companions in an escape from day care. The movie has had sales of $379.5 million in six weeks of release.

“Ramona and Beezus,” which finished sixth, is based on the Beverly Cleary books and follows the adventures a young girl, Ramona Quimby. The film, from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, stars Joey King as Ramona and Selena Gomez as older sister Beezus.

Weekend sales for the top 12 films rose to $156.8 million from $141.5 million a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. Year-to-date receipts total $6.49 billion, up 4.5 percent from $6.21 billion. Attendance has fallen 2 percent this year.

The following table has figures provided by studios to Los Angeles-based Hollywood.com. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales for July 23-24 and estimates for yesterday.

Rev. Avg./ Pct. Total Movie (mln) Theaters Theater Chg. (mln) Wks ================================================================ 1 INCEPTION $43.5 3,792 $11,473 -31 $143.7 2 2 SALT 36.5 3,612 10,105 -- 36.5 1 3 DESPICABLE ME 24.1 3,600 6,700 -26 161.7 3 4 SORCERER’S APPRENTICE 9.7 3,504 2,764 -45 42.6 2 5 TOY STORY 3 9.0 2,766 3,265 -25 379.5 6 6 RAMONA AND BEEZUS 8.0 2,719 2,942 -- 8.0 1 7 GROWN UPS 7.6 2,859 2,658 -23 142.4 5 8 TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE 7.0 3,121 2,253 -48 279.7 4 9 THE LAST AIRBENDER 4.2 2,127 1,962 -46 123.3 4 10 PREDATORS 2.9 1,846 1,544 -59 46.6 3 11 KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT 2.6 201 13,173 149 4.9 3 12 KNIGHT AND DAY 1.7 1,265 1,344 -53 72.7 5

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct.

(mln) (mln) Chg. ===================================

$156.8 $141.5 10.8

Year-to-date Revenue

2010 2009

YTD YTD Pct.

(mln) (mln) Chg. ===================================

$6,487 $6,207 4.5

Year-to-date Attendance: -1.95%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Oshrat Carmiel in New York at ocarmiel1@bloomberg.net.

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