There’s a reason why studios call them “weekend estimates” when box office figures are released on Sunday mornings. The numbers are just projections based on decades of moviegoing data that has almost become a science to calculate. Many times the results are spot on when the actuals are tabulated on Mondays, but most of the time they are a bit under the publicly announced figure. Studios are usually fine with that, because a bigger number is a more significant pr break and who writes about what the actual figure was anyway? In fact, studios have over-estimated the debuts of a number of high profile pictures such as “Iron Man 2” and “Shrek Forever After” to make sure the “right” story got out initially. Well, in the case of “Inception,” Warner Bros. should be even more ecstatic than on Sunday after Chris Nolan’s thriller came in higher than expected.
“Inception” grossed $62.1 million over its debut, significantly higher than the $60.4 million estimated Sunday. Comparatively, “Despicable Me” was only $100,000 higher with its $32.8 million take and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was $200,000 higher. “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” was $60,000 under and “Toy Story 3” was almost $400,000 higher, but overall the biggest jump came from the Leonardo DiCaprio blockbuster.
WB will know just how big a hit they have on their hands based on the strength of the midweek numbers. It will be a close call this weekend as “Inception” will face off against Angelina Jolie’s action adventure “Salt” in a race for no. 1 that could go down to the wire. So close, in fact, that it might not be decided until…Monday.