With moviegoers filling up on implausible PG-13-rated summer action, Sony's Angelina Jolie espionage thriller "Salt" and Warner's Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi spy film "Inception" had solid performances at the domestic box office Friday.
Coming in with surprisingly good reviews from key critics like Roger Ebert and Kenneth Turan, "Salt" opened to $12.7 million Friday, according to studio estimates, putting the $100 million movie on pace to meet pre-release expectations with what should be around $35 million for the weekend.
However, dropping only 39 percent from its debut Friday a week earlier, "Inception" once again lead the domestic box office, grossing $13.2 million.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an operative who steals high-level information within the subconscious minds of sleeping big-wigs, and shot for an estimated $160 million, "Inception" is on pace to pass the $140 million mark in the U.S. and Canada by the end of the weekend.
There was only one other wide release this weekend, Fox's tween-targeted "Ramona and Beezus" starring former Disney Channel luminary Selena Gomez. It grossed $3 million playing at 2,719 theaters, and is also set to meet pre-release estimates of around $8 million for the weekend.
Meanwhile, finishing third behind "Inception" and "Salt," Universal 3D-animated family film "Despicable Me" dropped only 28 percent in its third Friday, grossing $7.3 million. Produced for less than $70 million by Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment, the movie is set to pass the $160 million mark in North America by the end of the weekend.
With "Despicable Me" already having way overshot analysts' original forecasts, Illumination is already developing a sequel.
Not likely to merit follow-up, however, will be Disney's Jerry Bruckheimer-produced "Sorcerer's Apprentice," which grossed $2.9 million Friday — a 47 percent week-to-week drop-off. The $150 million family fantasy film, featuring the "National Treasure" talent duo of director Jon Turteltaub and star Nicolas Cage, should pass the $42.7 million mark this weekend.
Overall, the box office was up narrowly — about 7 percent — over the same weekend last year.