Box Office: Nolan’s Inception Proves Too Salty for Angelina Jolie

Call it the power of word of mouth. In its second week, Christopher Nolan’s mind-blowing “Inception” has retained the top spot at the box office, no doubt thanks to all the positive buzz from moviegoers who have already seen the film and continues to talk excitedly about it to everyone they know. “Inception” added another $43.5 million to its coffers, according to studio estimates, giving it $143 million so far, while Angelina Jolie’s spy-thriller “Salt” came in second place in its debut with $36.5 million million, just short of what industry experts were predicting.

A decidedly very “Angelina Jolie action film”, “Salt” fell short of Mrs. Brad Pitt’s two previous outing as an ass-kicking heroine, including 2008’s “Wanted”, which grossed over $50 million in its first weekend, and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2005, which also grossed around $50 million in its debut. Films where Jolie doesn’t shoot people have never really made much of a dent at the box office, which probably explained why the studio was comfortable with paying Jolie a hefty superstar salary of $20 million to play the CIA agent framed as a Russian spy in “Salt”.

There were no other major new studio competition for “Salt” and “Inception” over the weekend, except for the kid-friendly “Ramona and Beezus”, starring Disney’s newest pop princess/actress/anything they can put her in Selena Gomez (of “Wizards of Waverly Place” fame). The film made $8 million, landing in sixth place, and was no real threat to the big boys.

Notables:

On the Jerry Bruckheimer front, last week’s #3 film, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” fell another notch to #4 in its second week. The ridiculously expensive Bruckheimer-produced film ($150 million in production cost alone) added another disappointing $9.6 million to its two-week total of $42.6 million. It doesn’t look like the $150 million dollar film is going to be making its money back at the domestic box office anytime soon.

Bruckheimer’s other very expensive film, “The Prince of Persia” has quietly chugged along towards a $326 million worldwide box office. Despite the film’s initial disappointing domestic run, its foreign take and eventual DVD sales should turn the film profitable in the long run.