Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

Warner Bros. Entertainment

For a movie sold solely on its movie star, Angelina Jolie's Salt did better than most.

But Inception was still greater. The Christopher Nolan-Leonardo DiCaprio dreamscape stayed atop the weekend box office with an estimated $43.5 million.

Salt settled for second, with a gross that was good—but was it good enough?

Salt earned $36.5 million, on the higher end of expectations. The action flick's debut was bigger than recent star movies from Tom Cruise (Knight and Day) and Matt Damon (The Green Zone), and about even with Russell Crowe's Robin Hood

But with a budget reputedly north of $100 million, Salt still has a lot of catching up to do. And box-office watchers still have a lot of waiting to do. There are no reported overseas grosses yet. The film only opened in a few countries (and did well).

The jury, meanwhile, is not out on Inception.

After two weekends, it's made $143 million domestically—a Dark Knight-like number for a film that's not based on a comic book (or a video game, or a Utah mom's vampire dream, or…), and not charging 3D prices. 

More box-office factoids:

Add in Inception's foreign box office (as of Friday), and—voila!—the $160 million movie's worldwide total is at about $160 million. (Like Salt, Inception has barely begun its overseas assault.)

The surest sign that Inception is a keeper? Ticket sales were down less than one-third from last weekend's debut. 

• Wanted, Jolie's last action film, opened with about $51 million (and "only" cost $75 million). But for what it's worth, Wanted was based on a comic book; Salt was based only on Jolie.  

• Despicable Me was another film that continued to make the case for original ideas. The 3D Steve Carell toon stayed strong ($24.1 million), and, in its third weekend, blew past $160 million domestically. 

The Kids Are All Right ($2.6 million; $5 million overall) and Cyrus ($700,000; $6.3 million overall) continued to make the case for movies about people who don't fly. 

Ramona and Beezus reportedly cost about $15 million. It opened with $8 million. All in all, not a bad film-starring-debut for Selena Gomez.

Yes, Knight and Day is done—out of the Top 10 after four weekends, and, considering the star power and its $100 million-plus budget, only $72.7 million. No, it's not done. Worldwide, the movie has filled out, and posted a $130 million-plus overall gross.  

The Karate Kid's Top 10 run ended, too. It lasted six weekends, grossed a staggering $171.7 million domestically (off a $35 million budget), and showed The A-Team how to do do a 1980s flashback.

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top-grossing films, per Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Inception, $43.5 million
  2. Salt, $36.5 million
  3. Despicable Me, $24.1 million
  4. The Sorcerer's Apprentice, $9.7 million
  5. Toy Story 3, $9 million
  6. Ramona and Beezus, $8 million
  7. Grown Ups, $7.6 million
  8. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $7 million
  9. The Last Airbender, $4.2 million
  10. Predators, $2.9 million

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