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Your Box Office Explained: Inception and Kids Do All Right, Charlie St. Cloud Less So

The Weekend's Winners: Christopher Nolan’s Inception spent its third straight weekend atop the box office, earning another $27.5 million and bringing its cumulative domestic haul to $193 million. Meanwhile, Focus Features' The Kids Are All Right finally saw wide release took in an impressive $3.5 million.

The Weekend's Losers: Zac Efron's bid for leading-man status, Charlie St. Cloud, was only good for $12.3 million. Also, has our national appetite for talking-pet movies finally abated? Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore made just $12.5 million.

How It All Went Down: Like the dreaded sleep aid that made Tina Fey see Oprah on 30 Rock, Chris Nolan’s film “may cause dizziness, sexual nightmares, and sleep crime” — but that didn’t keep audiences away from Inception. As a result, Dinner for Schmucks, Paul Rudd and Steve Carrel’s remake of 1998’s Le dîner de cons — a gem of a film with a sublime performance by Jacques Villeret, who passed in 2005, in the role now played by Steve Carell (add it to your Netflix queue right now) — had to settle for second with $23.3 million.

Elsewhere, The Kids Are All Right proved it was ready for a big-boy bed: Strong reviews and word-of-mouth translated to $3.5 million on just 847 screens; that's an impressive feat considering studio comedy Ramona and Beezus could only do $3.6 million in 2,700 theaters.

But the film everyone in Hollywood was watching closest was Charlie St. Cloud, a crucial test of aspiring bad-ass Zac Efron's movie-opening ability. In this outing, he failed, even if the movie will do well enough thanks to its relatively modest cost. Hollywood knows it needs to create a new young crop of male leads, and Efron is considered a comer who could eventually star in the kinds of films that attract audiences young, old, male and female.

But sadly, early tracking suggested that Charlie St. Cloud wasn’t going to be one of them: Confidential NRG tracking numbers leaked to Vulture by a naughty studio executive showed that total overall awareness of the weepy film stood at 74 percent, and definite interest at a mediocre 28 percent; on average, Charlie was the first choice of just 9 percent of moviegoers polled late last week.

But the younger and more estrogen-rich your body, the more likely you were to want to see it. Theose NRG numbers showed that 87 percent of young women (females under 25) had heard of the movie, and more than half (53 percent) had "definite interest." For a little more than 1 in 4 of them, it was their first choice. And among teen females, Charlie was total catnip: Total awareness? 87 percent. Definite interest? 64 percent. And it was the "first choice" of nearly 40 percent of them. The hope was that they might bring the boys along.

But it didn't work out that way. A Universal spokesman confirmed that nearly 60 percent of Charlie’s audience was under 25 years of age, and nearly 80 percent of it was female. (CinemaScore data suggests it was even more teen-girly than that: Almost 40 percent of Efron’s audience were teen girls under the age of 18.)

So: Sorry, Charlie Zac. Maybe next time.

Photo: Focus Features