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July ends with three wide releases, but it looks like Inception will remain on top for the third weekend in a row. This is good news for everyone associated with that film, not so good for the new releases. However, while none of the openers look like they will take top spot, they should earn more than the three new releases from last year, while holdovers will also do their part to ensure 2010 keeps its winning streak going.

With some of the best reviews of the year, Inception has a shot at earning first place three weeks in a row and get closer to the $200 million mark. It would need to make about $35 million over the weekend to get there, but even the most optimistic analyst out there thinks that's probably out of the question. On the other hand, $30 million is not impossible, while $25 million is likely the low end of reasonable expectations. Fortunately, it appears that the high end is slightly more likely, and I'm going with just under $30 million over the weekend, which would mean the film would cross $200 million on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Salt is aiming for $100 million at the box office. It isn't guaranteed it will get there at this point, but a sub-50% drop-off during its sophomore stint would go a long way in helping it reach that target. Good reviews should help, as will the lack of direct competition. Look for just over $20 million over the weekend, which may or may not be enough to earn second place.

Dinner for Schmucks and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore will be joining Salt in a three-way battle for second place. Dinner for Schmucks is earning better reviews; however, its reviews have gone from more than 80% positive earlier in the week to barely more than 50% positive. Star power is a selling point. For instance, since his breakout success in The 40-Year Old Virgin, Steve Carell has averaged $100 million at the box office. Paul Rudd hasn't been quite as fortunate, but he still has a number of solid, mid-level hits in recent years. Finally, Zach Galifianakis could become the next big comedy name. Maybe it will surprise and earn close to $30 million and challenge for top spot. On the other hand, just under $20 million and third spot is more likely.

The widest release of the week is Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs. That film earned more than $90 million at the box office, which is about $125 million given inflation. However, the key number there is 2001. It has been a while since the first film came out and I don't think there has been a lot of demand building for a sequel over the past decade. Furthermore, the reviews are quite terrible. Granted, little kids don't usually read reviews, but there's plenty of competition out there, including Despicable Me and Toy Story 3. Again, it could surprise and earn $25 million or so, but $19 million is more likely. That will put it in a virtual tie with Dinner for Schmucks and Salt for second place, but I think it will be the odd film out.

Speaking of Despicable Me, it should round out the top five with $15 million to $16 million over the weekend for a total of $190 million after four. It too will cross $200 million soon and might even overtake Shrek Forever After on the yearly chart.

The final wide release of the week is Charlie St. Cloud, the latest vehicle for Zac Efron. The High School Musical star could have a big career ahead of him, but he will have to avoid films like this one. Its reviews are among the worst of the year with many, many critics calling the film sentimental, maudlin, emotionally manipulative, melodramatic, and worse. Perhaps it will catch a ride on Eclipse's coattails, which is losing a substantial number of theaters after a month of release. On the other hand, it might not hit $10 million during its opening. I'm going with $13 million over the weekend and just over $30 million in total.

- C.S.Strowbridge Threepeat for Inception? - The Numbers

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Threepeat for Inception?

July 29th, 2010

July ends with three wide releases, but it looks like Inception will remain on top for the third weekend in a row. This is good news for everyone associated with that film, not so good for the new releases. However, while none of the openers look like they will take top spot, they should earn more than the three new releases from last year, while holdovers will also do their part to ensure 2010 keeps its winning streak going.

With some of the best reviews of the year, Inception has a shot at earning first place three weeks in a row and get closer to the $200 million mark. It would need to make about $35 million over the weekend to get there, but even the most optimistic analyst out there thinks that's probably out of the question. On the other hand, $30 million is not impossible, while $25 million is likely the low end of reasonable expectations. Fortunately, it appears that the high end is slightly more likely, and I'm going with just under $30 million over the weekend, which would mean the film would cross $200 million on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Salt is aiming for $100 million at the box office. It isn't guaranteed it will get there at this point, but a sub-50% drop-off during its sophomore stint would go a long way in helping it reach that target. Good reviews should help, as will the lack of direct competition. Look for just over $20 million over the weekend, which may or may not be enough to earn second place.

Dinner for Schmucks and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore will be joining Salt in a three-way battle for second place. Dinner for Schmucks is earning better reviews; however, its reviews have gone from more than 80% positive earlier in the week to barely more than 50% positive. Star power is a selling point. For instance, since his breakout success in The 40-Year Old Virgin, Steve Carell has averaged $100 million at the box office. Paul Rudd hasn't been quite as fortunate, but he still has a number of solid, mid-level hits in recent years. Finally, Zach Galifianakis could become the next big comedy name. Maybe it will surprise and earn close to $30 million and challenge for top spot. On the other hand, just under $20 million and third spot is more likely.

The widest release of the week is Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs. That film earned more than $90 million at the box office, which is about $125 million given inflation. However, the key number there is 2001. It has been a while since the first film came out and I don't think there has been a lot of demand building for a sequel over the past decade. Furthermore, the reviews are quite terrible. Granted, little kids don't usually read reviews, but there's plenty of competition out there, including Despicable Me and Toy Story 3. Again, it could surprise and earn $25 million or so, but $19 million is more likely. That will put it in a virtual tie with Dinner for Schmucks and Salt for second place, but I think it will be the odd film out.

Speaking of Despicable Me, it should round out the top five with $15 million to $16 million over the weekend for a total of $190 million after four. It too will cross $200 million soon and might even overtake Shrek Forever After on the yearly chart.

The final wide release of the week is Charlie St. Cloud, the latest vehicle for Zac Efron. The High School Musical star could have a big career ahead of him, but he will have to avoid films like this one. Its reviews are among the worst of the year with many, many critics calling the film sentimental, maudlin, emotionally manipulative, melodramatic, and worse. Perhaps it will catch a ride on Eclipse's coattails, which is losing a substantial number of theaters after a month of release. On the other hand, it might not hit $10 million during its opening. I'm going with $13 million over the weekend and just over $30 million in total.

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Filed under: Inception, Despicable Me, Salt, Dinner for Schmucks, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Charlie St. Cloud