After nearly a month atop the box office, the brainy thriller Inception lost its crown to a couple of goofs.
The Other Guys, the critically lauded comedy with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, stormed to No. 1 this weekend with a strong $35.6 million, according to studio estimates from Movies.com.
The movie earned recommendations from 80% of the nation's reviewers, according to RottenTomatoes.com, and took in $10 million more than many analysts projected.
The movie marked Ferrell's second-largest debut, behind Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which opened to $47 million. It gives a needed boost to Ferrell's résumé, which had taken a hit with Land of the Lost, which only earned $49.4 million last year.
Guys' performance speaks partly to the re-pairing of Ferrell and director Adam McKay (Talladega Nights) and partly to a summer devoid of laughs.
So far, only Sony is filling the void. The studio's Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups, while pummeled by critics, has done $155 million with virtually no competition.
Rory Bruer, distribution chief of Sony, which released The Other Guys, says he expects the film to have a long run, like Grown Ups. "We've had a really strong summer, and I think this opening sets us up for a movie with pretty good legs," he says.
Dinner for Schmucks, with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, earned $10.5 million but is fading at the box office, dropping to fifth in its second week.
"You'd think studios would be salivating at the opportunity to fill the market," says Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com. "Comedies have great legs — it's one of the main reasons we go to the movies. But there's been little out there for adults."
Except Inception, which relinquished the top spot with $18.6 million, good for second place and another strong hold. The Leonardo DiCaprio thriller has earned $227.7 million since its release a month ago, thanks to befuddled moviegoers seeing the film multiple times. Distributor Warner Bros. estimates that 15% of Inception's audience is seeing it for the second or third time.
Alas, this was not a weekend for moviegoers seeking other brain food.
Step Up 3D was a healthy third place with $15.5 million.
Salt, Angelina Jolie's action thriller, was fourth with $11.1 million. The film has earned $92 million in three weeks.