Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

Warner Bros. Entertainment

Christopher Nolan has more than one trick up his utility belt.

Inception, the Caped Crusader director's latest, ruled the weekend box office with a bigger-than-expected, bigger-than-Batman Begins $60.4 million.

Nicolas Cage's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, meanwhile, was outta luck.

The $150 million-ish Disney extravaganza managed only $17.4 million from Friday-Sunday, and only $24.5 million overall since opening Wednesday.

Drilling down into the numbers:

Inception is the summer's biggest debut for a non-franchise flick, à la Iron Man 2,  and a non-reboot, à la The Karate Kid. Or, in other words, it's the summer's biggest debut for a new idea. 

At $160 million reportedly, Nolan's Leonardo DiCaprio dream thriller was more expensive than Batman Begins. It was also more successful than that 2005 relaunch, which bowed with $48.7 million. (Nolan's The Dark Knight is another story, obviously.)

Inception is now the biggest opener, by far, of DiCaprio's career. (Titanic, remember, was a marathon runner, not a sprinter.)

As Prince of Persia proved again this summer, it's not over until the foreign box office is all counted. So, no, it's not over for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which is a good thing for Disney because the movie's worldwide grand total right now is not so grand: $32.8 million. (To be fair, it hasn't opened in a lot of foreign markets yet.) 

Eclipse vs. New Moon watch: After 19 days, Eclipse is at $264.9 million domestically; at the same time in its run, New Moon was at $257.5 million.

Last weekend's champ, the 3-D-powered Despicable Me, got bumped down to second place, but otherwise held great. Its domestic total is now at $118.4 million.

The indie comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right made $1 million and a run at the Top 10 (it just missed) on the "strength" of 38 theaters. Its per-screen average was the best of the weekend—even bigger than Inception's.

The $110 million A-Team was out of the Top 10 after five forgettable weekends and $75.2 million domestically. (But, yup, it made its budget back overseas.) 

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

  1. Inception, $60.4 million
  2. Despicable Me, $32.7 million
  3. The Sorcerer's Apprentice, $17.4 million
  4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $13.5 million
  5. Toy Story 3, $11.7 million
  6. Grown Ups, $10 million
  7. The Last Airbender, $7.5 million
  8. Predators, $6.8 million
  9. Knight and Day, $3.7 million
  10. The Karate Kid, $2.2 million

(Originally published July 18, 2010, at 10:52 a.m. PT)

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