SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Friday, Saturday, and weekend numbers for North America’s Top 5 movie grosses:

inception poster1. What an impressive start for the Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures mind-bending scifi thriller from 3,792 theaters, with Friday’s $21.6 million (including $3M midnight shows in 1,600 locations) and Saturday’s $21.5 million. The studio pegged the weekend opening at $60.4M, solid for a 2D film, against a $150M budget. Audiences rated it an overall ”B+”  Cinemascore, with the under-25 crowd giving it an “A”. Then again, this is Summer 2010′s most anticipated film because of Chris Nolan’s incredible track record for critically acclaimed big box office actioners (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) as well as smaller psychological dramas (Memento and Insomnia) films — and Inception represents both genres. (By the way, have you seen Inception’s comic book preview? This rather innovative marketing gimmick is  here.) This gives star Leonardo DiCaprio his biggest debut ever, out-grossing the mid-February opening of his Shutter Island with Marty Scorsese. Also, the IMAX screenings of Inception accounted for 12% of the weekend gross with an amazing $7 million in 197 locations: the best ever for an IMAX 2D title.

But I’ve rarely seen Hollywood all over the map when it came to a movie’s expected 3-day weekend grosses like this time. That’s because this was an original film not easily explained in a 30-second spot. Rival studios gave me predictions ranging from a low of $40sM to a high of $60M — and everything inbetween. Especially because, surprisingly, tracking didn’t jump quite as much from last Monday to now. Comps include Shutter Island with a bump for summer, or Batman Begins plus inflation. But no one is certain what to add for ”The Nolan Factor”.  (This was a movie Chris wanted to make for 10 years.) Yet everyone agrees that the pic will have considerable legs if audiences don’t find it too dark or too hyped or — god forbid! — too smart. Though one reviewer complained, Nolan’s visionary film has ”no soul, no sex, and almost no joy”.

Inception generated an estimated $15.6M internationally with nearly 2.7M admissions from 1,753 screens in 7 markets. The studio plans a 3-week overseas roll-out for Chris Nolan’s pic. This weekend, the UK delivered an outstanding £5.6M ($8.6M) from 451 situations nationwide, marking the biggest opening ever for a Leonardo Di Caprio film in that country. Inception dominated the weekend at #1 with a commanding 40% of the Top 5 market share. The pic also launched in these Asian markets — Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, and Thailand — and is estimated to top the charts throughout the region with an estimated $6.4M on 978 screens. Next weekend Inception opens in 29 additional countries, including: France, Russia, Australia, Korea, Japan, and Mexico. Then, from July 28th to August 1st, another 13 markets come on line, including Germany.

2. Despicable Me (3D) (Universal) Week 2 [3,501 Theaters]
Friday $10.1M, Saturday $12.9M, Weekend $32.7M (-43%), Cume $118.3M

Superb hold of -43% after big last week for this Illumination toon, even up against 3 other family films in the marketplace. It crossed the $100 million mark in just 9 days of release — good news for hit-starved Universal.

sorcerers_apprentice_movie_poster-550x8133. What a huge disappointment for Disney. Jerry Bruckheimer’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice tanked by making only $5.4M Friday and $6.9M Saturday from 3,504 U.S. and Canadian theaters for what should be a paltry $17.3M for the 3-day weekend. The studio even moved up its opening to Wednesday to garner extra attention but added only $3.7M Wednesday from 3,385 locations, and $3.2M Thursday. So the pic’s cume is now $24.4M. Little wonder that Hollywood thinks this may well be the last film at Disney where megaproducer Bruckheimer just phones it in. The pic’s 5-day projection kept going down, from $35M to $30M to $25M for the costly Nic Cage starrer. But I’d been following the pic’s tracking, which at no point hinted at a blockbuster. At 2 1/2 weeks out, Sorcerer’s Apprentice was tracking worse than Bruckheimer’s U.S. underperformer Prince Of Persia did. 

Though exhibitor screenings had gone well, Disney was concerned. A week later, numbers for Sorcerer’s Apprentice showed gains. But then, Sorcerer’s Apprentice stalled at 8% first choice, which is unusual. “You’d like to see that weekend before opening show some real growth. But the pic is not showing a heck of a lot of strength with family audiences,” a source told me at the time. Then again, Prince Of Persia was a North American disappointment when it opened to $30M. But it has made 72% of its money internationally. That is the only hope for Sorcerer’s Apprentice now.

4. Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Week 3) [4,001 Theaters]
Friday $4.5M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $13.5M, Cume $264.9M

5. Toy Story 3  (3D) (Disney) Week 5 [3,177 Theaters]
Friday $3.4M, Saturday $4.8M, Weekend $11.8M, Cume $362.7M

6. Grown Ups (Sony) Week 4 [3,074 Theaters]
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $4M, Weekend $10M, Cume $129.2M

7. Last Airbender (3D) (Paramount) Week 3 [2,805 Theaters]
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $3M, Weekend $7.4M, Cume $114.8M

8. Predators (Fox) Week 2 [2,669 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.7M (-73%), Cume $40M

Boy, that’s a big week-to-week drop.

9. Knight & Day (Fox) Week 4 [1,925 Theaters]
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $1.4M, Weekend $3.5M, Cume $69M

10. Karate Kid (Sony) Week 6 [1,532 Theaters]
Friday $635K, Saturday $935K, Weekend $2.2M, Cume $169.2M

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.