By re-teaming with Adam McKay, Will Ferrell has recaptured his box-office mojo.
The pair's cop comedy "The Other Guys" took the top spot at the domestic box office this weekend, grossing $35.6 million in 3,651 theaters, according to studio estimates.
"Guys" was a tracking-beater in an otherwise oft weekend; overall the box office was down 8 percent from the same weekend last year.
The week's other big debut, the Disney/Summit co-production "Step Up: 3D" beat its modest pre-release tracking, grossing $15.4 million in 2,435 theaters,good enough to give the dance movie third place on the weekend's top ten list, but down from the other two films in the series.
"Step Up" debuted to $20.6 million in 2006 and "Step Up 2" made $18.9 million during its first weekend in 2008.
The Christopher Nolan head trip "Inception" finally ceded its box office crown after three weeks in first place. The Warner Brothers release only dropped 32 percent to gross $18.7 million. If estimates hold, its total for the weekend stands at $227.8 million, making it Nolan's second largest earning film domestically after "The Dark Knight."
Coming on the heels of box office debacle "Land of the Lost," "Other Guys" demonstrates the potency of the McKay/Ferrell partnership. The $85 million movie opened slightly behind the Gary Sanchez partners' previous collaboration "Talladega Nights" ($47 million), but ahead of their other films "Step Brothers" ($30 million) and "Anchorman" ($28.4 million).
"It is without a doubt one of the best teamings within the industry. The two of them together are truly a duo to be reckoned with," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer told TheWrap.
Bruer noted that the film was helped in part by the star and director's willingness to talk up the show on late night programs, magazines, newspapers, and seemingly any outlet that would host them (including an appearance at Comic-Con, rare for a straight-up comedy).
"Other Guys" also continues a hit streak for Sony; the studio's summer offerings — "The Karate Kid," "Grown Ups," "Salt" — have all demonstrated box office muscle on their way to $100 million plus takes.
"It's been a wow summer for us. We're just firing on all cylinders," Bruer said.
Sony's other big release, "Salt," continued to show legs. Coming in at fourth place for the weekend, the spy thriller earned $11.1 million, bringing its domestic total to over $92 million. The film has a negative cost of just over $100 million.
Facing stiff competition for the yuks crowd from Ferrell's latest offerings, "Dinner for Schmucks" took a sizeable hit. The Steve Carrell/Paul Rudd comedy dropped nearly 60 percent, grossing $10.5 million and slipping to fifth place for the weekend. The Paramount/DreamWorks co-production was shot for $62.7 million.
Carrell fared far better in animated form. His "Despicable Me" continued to be a cash cow for Universal, slipping 39 percent in its fifth week of release to earn $9.4 million. The film has now banked $209 million domestically.
Also showing a steep drop-off was Universal's tween targeted Zac Efron vehicle "Charlie St. Cloud." The romantic drama fell 62 percent in its second week of release, netting the studio a meager $4.7 million. The $40 million film has so far earned just $23.5 million in the United States and Canada.
Continuing its roll out, rapturously reviewed "The Kids are All Right" expanded to 994 theaters up from 847 locations last weekend, breaking into the weekend's top ten. The drama about a lesbian couple and their sperm donor has become one of the breakout indie hits this summer, earning $2.6 million this weekend and $14 million overall.
A trio of limited releases were met with mixed results.
"Flipped," the period drama from Rob Reiner, took in $234,000 at 45 locations in three markets for a strong $5,200 per-screen average. "Middle Men," the Paramount Vantage and Oxymoron biopic about the birth of internet porn, took a flimsy $1,210 per site at 252 locations for a total gross of $305,000. And the Hannover House suburbian drug-dealing drama "Twelve," starring Chace Crawford, made only $107,000 in 231 theaters for a paltry $463 per-screen average.