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The Secret of Inception is That There is No Secret

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 26, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 26, 2010 |

Miraculously, it was another weekend where the top three at the box-office were all comprised of original properties, which continues to bode well for a Hollywood future where sequels, reboots, reborquels, and adaptations don’t dominate the landscape (I’ve noticed a slight drop-off in recycled properties in the trade news of late, too). Those three were Inception, Salt, and Despicable Me, all of which put up nice numbers for the weekend, although it was Inception that held on to the top spot for the second weekend in a row, adding $43 million and bringing its total to a $143 million. It had only a 30 percent drop weekend-to-weekend, which is almost unheard of for a summer blockbuster, where word-of-mouth kills more movies in their second weekend than bolsters them.

Another factor playing into the continued success of Inception are the people returning to see it a second and a third time, which is encouraging because it’s a great movie that probably plays very well on a second viewing. But, I’m a little irritated with all the talk of the “unanswered questions,” and the inordinate number of pieces devoted to unraveling the “mystery” of Inception. Entertainment Weekly’s cover story this weekend, in fact, invites you to uncover “the secrets of Inception.” I find this irksome because, while I think that Inception was a fairly dense, complex film (especially for a summer blockbuster), I also thought the narrative was straightforward. Save for some slight ambiguity in the end re: the totem, which doesn’t really create a lot of unanswered questions as much as it plants a seed of doubt, I didn’t think there were any “secrets” to unearth that weren’t obvious on the face of the movie. And the few pieces I’ve read on the matter all seem to do little more than restate the plot in simpler terms. Either these pieces are transparent acts of hit whoring (nothing wrong with that), or no one wants to give the audience the benefit of the doubt. I just didn’t think it was a movie that left a lot up to interpretation, save for the final five seconds. But maybe I’m the dumb one for not realizing there was lots of secrets.

Anyway, Salt came in second with $36.5 million, which is not a bad number at all. In fact, it was better than the opening weekends for the two other spy movies this summer, Knight and Day and Killers. It also fared well with females, thanks to Jolie’s presence, and it was one of the few action films in recent memory attended by more women (53 percent) than men. Come back tomorrow, and we here at Pajiba promise to devote a half-a-day’s efforts to uncovering the secrets of Salt.

Despicable Me kept rolling along, adding another $24 million to bring its total to $161 million. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice slowed considerably, adding only another $9 million to bring its ten-day total to $42 million, and Toy Story 3 also added another $9 million. After after six weeks in the top five, Toy Story 3 adds to its box-office dominance of 2010, reaching $379 million overall.

The other newcomer this weekend, Ramona and Beezus, didn’t fare so well, landing at number six with only $8 million. Of course, $8 million was probably half of the United States’ total GNP back when the 93-year-old Beverly Clearly was born. Don’t take it personally, Bev. Blame the fading star power of Selena Gomez. You can still bring it, grams.

There were no other new releases, even in the indie world, to break the top 30 this weekend, although Cyrus continues to fare well, making it one of the few breakout indie hits of 2010.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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