"Salt" can't shake "Inception" at box office

Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:42pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Angelina Jolie's new spy thriller "Salt" failed to take the North American box office crown from Leonardo DiCaprio's "Inception," which enjoyed a stronger-than-expected hold in its second weekend.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "Inception" earned $43.5 million during the three days beginning on Friday, with "Salt" at No. 2 with $36.5 million.

Internationally, "Inception" was No. 2 with $56.7 million from 38 markets, behind "Toy Story 3" with $62 million from 43 countries.

Pundits had predicted "Salt" might hit the $40 million mark in the United States and Canada, although distributor Columbia Pictures said the opening was in line with its expectations.

The three-day estimate represents a significant drop from the $50 million openings for each of Jolie's last big films, "Wanted" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

Jolie earned $20 million for "Salt," a timely thriller about Russian sleeper spies preparing to bring the United States to its knees. The high-energy action role was originally envisaged for Tom Cruise, who went on to make the box office dud "Knight and Day" instead.

With a relatively modest $100 million price tag, "Salt" was directed by Australian filmmaker Phillip Noyce and co-stars Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ojiofor. Columbia, a unit of Sony Corp, said women accounted for 53 percent of the audience.

"Salt" is expected to make most of its money overseas. It opened promisingly in India and Taiwan, according to Columbia, and will expand to Japan, Russia, South Korea and Brazil next weekend.

"INCEPTION" RACES TO $144 MILLION   Continued...

<p>Cast member Angelina Jolie smiles at the premiere of the movie "Salt" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California July 19, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>