Warner's Inception is off to a good start with an opening weekend take of $62.79 million. The Christopher Nolan directed film starring Leonardo DiCaprio was under-estimated by a notable $2.39 million on Sunday. Heading into the summer and even into this weekend, Inception was a big question mark, as opening weekend expectations ranged anywhere from $40 million to $80 million. Ultimately the film opened right in the middle of that range. Inception delivered one of the largest unadjusted debuts ever for a non-animated original property (Avatar holds that record with $77.03 million). At the same time, the film also needed to deliver one of the largest debuts ever for an original property, given its $160 million production budget and high-profile marketing campaign. Though it didn't have the aid of 3D, Inception was helped out by grossing an estimated $7 million from 197 IMAX locations.
Inception opened 53 percent stronger than the $41.06 million start of February's Shutter Island. DiCaprio has been especially bankable when working with director Martin Scorsese and proved to be even more bankable with Nolan. Inception represented the largest debut of DiCaprio's career and the second largest ever for Nolan (behind only 2008's The Dark Knight), who obviously now has one of the largest fanbases of any director in Hollywood.
Inception held up quite well throughout the weekend, especially for a film was such massive buzz in the days before its release. After an opening day take of $21.78 million (which also included an estimated $3 million in Midnight grosses), the film was able to generate a 3-day to Friday ratio of 2.88 to 1. That is a very positive early sign for the film's holding power going forward. Internationally, Inception grossed an estimated $16.5 million from seven foreign markets. The film's key international debut was its $9.0 million start in the United Kingdom. Inception will open in a number of major foreign markets each of the next two weekends.
Taking a clear back-seat to Inception (as well as Universal's Despicable Me) was Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice. After a slow start on Wednesday and Thursday, the big-budget adventure film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer was unable to pick up much momentum over the weekend and had to settle for a third place debut of $17.62 million. That brings the film's five-day start to a lackluster $24.71 million. While The Sorcerer's Apprentice only opened a bit below its modest expectations, the film's debut was one of the bigger disappointments of the summer when considering it carried a price tag in the same neighborhood as Inception.
Though it is targeted towards a younger audience, The Sorcerer's Apprentice opened in the same neighborhood as the recent Knight and Day, which grossed $27.43 million in its first five days of release last month. Whether or not Sorcerer's Apprentice can hold up as well as Knight and Day has remains to be seen. Internationally, The Sorcerer's Apprentice grossed an estimated $8.3 million from 13 territories. It opened in first place in Russia with $4.8 million.
Despicable Me continued its surprisingly strong run with a second place, second weekend take of $32.80 million. The initial computer animated release from Illumination Entertainment was down 42 percent, which is a very solid second weekend hold for a high-profile computer animated film released in the summer. Thanks in part to a strong marketing campaign and good word of mouth, Despicable Me has grossed $118.43 million in its first ten days of release. Despicable Me is performing right in line with the ten-day starts of 2006's Cars ($117.06 million) and 2008's Kung Fu Panda ($117.29 million). That strongly suggests that Despicable Me will be able to reach the $200 million milestone by the end of its run, which would make it the first Universal release to do so since 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum.
After a better than expected hold last weekend, Eclipse experience a sharper percentage decline this weekend. Summit's blockbuster sequel was down 58 percent with a fourth place gross of $13.42 million. The 19-day total for Eclipse stands at $264.79 million, placing it 3 percent ahead of the pace New Moon and 4 percent ahead of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Though it is running ahead of both films, Eclipse also delivered a weaker third weekend gross than both, which means it will need to stabilize going forward if it is to reach the $300 million mark.
Disney's Toy Story 3 rounded out the weekend's top five with $11.998 million. That was down a respectable 43 percent from the previous weekend. The highest grossing release of 2010 has now taken in $362.97 million through 31 days of domestic release. That leaves Toy Story 3 $37.03 million away from reaching the $400 million milestone. On the international front Toy Story 3 grossed an estimated $32.9 million from 41 territories. Key debuts included $8.9 million in France and $3.0 million in Hong Kong. The film's international total stands at $267.5 million, which places its current worldwide gross at $630.5 million.