In a performance every bit as impressive as the movie's twisting landscapes and nested-doll storytelling, Christopher Nolan's Inception remained on top of the box office pile for a third consecutive weekend with $27 million dollars, putting it within a few days' distance of $200 million.

Big-budget, adult-oriented films that open big rarely show this much staying power -- ones that are long and confusing do so even more rarely. By the end of its run, Inception will become one of the summer's biggest hits, likely behind only Toy Story 3 and Iron Man 2. Not bad for an original vision with no franchise or brand name -- beyond Chris Nolan's and Leonardo DiCaprio's -- to get asses in seats.

Steve Carell's Dinner for Schmucks opened on the low end of expectations with $23 million and second place. Carrell's Date Night opened similarly back in April, but stuck around the multiplex for months on its way to $100 million. Dinner for Schmucks has less of an immediately appealing high concept (the plot, based on the French film The Dinner Game, is actually kind of weird), and it's not clear if Paul Rudd is as popular a foil for Carell as Tina Fey, so we'll see.

Also opening this weekend: the irrelevant, eight-years-late sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs, and the Zac Efron weepie Charlie St. Cloud, which seems notable mostly for the derisive laughter its trailer received before opening weekend Inception screenings. Both opened to miserable reviews and grosses around $12 million -- middling for Charlie, and pretty brutal for Cats.

Full top 10 after the jump.

1 - Inception - $27.5 ($7,763) - 35% - $193.3
2 - Dinner for Schmucks - $23.3 ($8,004) - new - $23.3
3 - Salt (Sony) - $19.3 ($5,329) - 47% - $70.8
4 - Despicable Me (Universal) - $15.5 ($4,315) - 35% - $190.3
5 - Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (Warner Bros.) - $12.5 ($3,381) - new - $12.5
6 - Clarle St. Cloud (Universal) - $12.1 ($4,465) - new - $12.1
7 - Toy Story 3 (Disney) - $5.0 ($2,392) - 44% - $389.7
8 - Grown Ups (Sony) - $4.5 ($1,983) - 39% - $150.7
9 - The Sorcerer's Apprentice - $4.4 ($1,712) - 55% - $51.9
10 - Eclipse (Summit) - $4.0 ($1,699) - 45% - $288.2

Next week: It's The Other Guys vs. Step Up 3-D as summer starts winding down a bit. Should be interesting, since Will Ferrell movies without an immediate hook can be touch and go.