Los Angeles: Leonardo DiCaprio`s dreams thriller `Inception` ruled the North American box office for a third weekend on Sunday, and also overtook `Toy Story 3` to claim top honors internationally.
"Inception" fended off three middling newcomers, led by the Steve Carell comedy "Dinner for Schmucks," to sell $27.5 million worth of tickets across the United States and Canada during the three days beginning on Friday.
Its domestic total rose to $193.3 million, said its distributor Warner Bros., which remained confident that it would finish up around the $300 million mark.
Internationally, "Inception" pulled in $53.7 million from 51 markets, taking its foreign total to $170 million. It opened at No. 1 in Germany ($7.1 million), and retained its crown in France and Australia.
"Dinner for Schmucks" opened to $23.3 million in North America, in line with expectations but down from the $25 million start for Carell`s previous live-action movie "Date Night" in April.
The opening was "solid," said Don Harris, executive VP for distribution at Viacom Inc-owned distributor Paramount Pictures, which partnered on the $63 million project with closely held producers DreamWorks and Spyglass Entertainment.
"Schmucks," which garnered mixed reviews, stars Carell as a buffoon invited to a party for oddballs hosted by wealthy businessmen who lampoon their idiocy. Paul Rudd co-stars, and Jay Roach of "Austin Powers" fame directs.
The film was marketed at men but women liked it better, Harris said. He hoped the film would follow a similar trajectory as the Adam Sandler hit "Grown Ups," which has earned $150.7 million to date.
"CATS & DOGS" ROADKILL
Honors for the biggest bomb went to the costly Warner Bros. 3D family sequel "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," which opened at No. 5 with just $12.5 million. The Time Warner Inc unit had hoped it would earn more than $20 million.
"We probably failed to create the same level of interest that we had in the original," said Dan Fellman, the studio`s president of domestic distribution.
The 2001 original, "Cats & Dogs," opened to $22 million in 2001. The sequel had the benefit of premium pricing for 3D engagements as well as higher ticket prices overall.
The project, carrying a reported $85 million budget, was a joint-venture with Australian media firm Village Roadshow Ltd.
Also new was Universal Pictures` Zac Efron psychological melodrama "Charlie St. Cloud," which opened at No. 6 with $12.1 million, at the lower end of expectations. The "High School Musical" heartthrob was last in theaters with "17 Again," which opened to $23 million in April 2009.
The film, which cost a relatively cheap $44 million to make, played almost exclusively to Efron`s core audience of young women. The General Electric Co unit said it expected strong midweek grosses. Efron`s bereaved title character sees his dead younger brother.
Columbia Pictures` Angelina Jolie thriller "Salt," which opened at No. 2 last weekend, slipped one place with $19.3 million, taking its total to $70.8 million.
The film is tracking far behind her previous action films "Wanted" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," but the Sony Corp unit expects to make most of its money internationally. Its early foreign total rose to $32.8 million, bolstered by No. 1 openings this past weekend in South Korea ($6.5 million) and Russia ($5.5 million).
Universal`s hit cartoon "Despicable Me," also featuring Carell, was off one to No. 4 with $15.4 million; its total rose to $190.3 million after four weekends. The early foreign total stands at $29.2 million.
Internationally, Walt Disney Co`s "Toy Story 3" slipped to No. 2 with $39.1 million from 48 countries, for a total of $434.6 million. The Pixar cartoon led Britain for a second weekend, and Japan for a fourth, tallying about $61 million in each market. In North America, it fell two places to No. 7, with earnings to date of $390 million.