B.O.: ‘Inception’ Wins Again with $27.5M; $23.3M for ‘Schmucks’

Christopher Nolan thriller leads for a third straight week, while Jay Roach comedy meets tracking; “Cats & Dogs 2” and “Charlie St. Cloud” both DOA

As expected, Warner's dream-filled sci-fi thriller "Inception" won the domestic box office for a third consecutive week, grossing $27.5 million, according to estimates.

For the second straight weekend, the Christopher Nolan-directed film dropped less than 40 percent from the week prior (the decline was only 36 percent this time around). It has grossed $193.3 million in the U.S. and Canada to date.

Paramount/DreamWorks comedy "Dinner with Schmucks," opening at 2,911 theaters, was a solid No. 2, meeting its pre-release estimates with a first-weekend haul of $23.3 million.

The weekend's other new wide releases, Universal's tween-targeted Zac Efron movie "Charlie St. Cloud" and Warner's 3D talking-animal family sequel "Cats and Dogs: the Revenge of Kitty Galore," both floundered.

The follow-up to 2001's "Cats and Dogs," which comes with a robust $85 million negative cost, will finish its first three days with $12.5 million — which is about $9 million less than what the original opened to.

Efron's "St. Cloud," meanwhile, dropped 32 percent from its lukewarm opening Friday. The $44 million film, co-financed with Relativity Media, will end up with a first-weekend gross of only around $12.1 million.

As for "Schmucks," Paramount distribution G.M. Don Harris said the film benefited from the scarcity of other adult comedies at the box office, noting that it has been five full weeks since the Sony released Adam Sandler movie "Grown Ups."

"The other good news was that our movie played well with women, probably because it ultimately has a sweet heart," Harris said.

The PG-13-rated "Schmucks," which stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, drew an audience that was 45 percent female. It also got a B grade from movie customer-satisfaction grader CinemaScore.

Co-produced by Paramount, DreamWorks and Spyglass Entertainment, "Schmucks" was shot for  $62.7 million, Paramount officials said, once tax breaks were factored in.

The movie is one of among the last co-produced legacies left over from Paramount and DreamWorks' corporate marriage, which ended in 2008.

Finishing in third place this weekend, Sony Angelina Jolie thriller "Salt" also dropped under 50 percent week to week, taking in $19.3 million.

"Salt" has grossed $70.8 million in North America so far and $32.8 million overseas, adding another $24.5 million to its international gross this weekend. The film has a negative cost of just over $100 million.

In fourth place after four weekends, Universal 3D-animated "Despicable Me" added $15.5 million to a domestic total that has now surpassed $190 million.

The Carell-voiced family comedy added $10.5 million to its international total this weekend playing in 20 territories. "Despicable's" international receipts now stand at $29.5 million, with the bulk of overseas openings still to come.

Conversely, Warner's 3D-converted "Cats and Dogs" sequel endured perhaps the worst opening yet for a 3D film in the modern era.

Co-produced with Village Roadshow, and lightly casted with Jeff Goldblum and Elizabeth Perkins acting along CG-enhanced critters, the movie opened in 3,705 theaters, with 2,130 offering the film in 3D.

Certainly, Warner can take solace in the performance of "Inception," which has surpassed $170 million in the foreign market and has now surpassed $363 million globally.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, "Inception" was shot for $160 million.