After a depressed June the UK box office continued to build momentum with the anticipated release of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster Inception.

On its opening weekend, the Warner Bros film took $9m (£5.9m) from 452 screens, scoring a screen average of $19,918 (£13,081). The total was the highest UK opening for a Leonardo DiCaprio film.

As of yesterday the BFI Imax alone had taken 15,901 advance bookings for Inception, at a profit of nearly $305,000 (£200,000) — figures that bode well for the action-thriller’s longevity.

However, while Inception dwarfed June’s highest openers The Killers and Get Him To The Greek, the $250m estimated (£160m) production couldn’t improve on Shrek Forever After’s $10.5m (£6.9m) debut two weeks ago or even get close to the $20.6m (£13.7m) plundered by Eclipse last weekend. With this weekend’s added distraction of Toy Story 3 there’s a chance the thought-provoking thriller could be swallowed up by the summer blockbuster parade.

Warner, and other majors, must be hoping that their charges prove as resilient as Paramount’s Shrek Forever After which made $6.2m (£4.1m) from 528 screens in its third week at the UK box office. With an impressive drop of only 9% Shrek had the kindest change in fortune of any top 30 film last weekend and with a to-date total of $37m (£24.3m), the ever-popular family comedy still has its nose in front of Eclipse in the cumulative stakes. Indeed Shrek is second only to Avatar in the list of top 70 cumulative grosses for films currently showing in the UK.

The weekend’s second- and third-highest new entries were both music based comedy-dramas. Optimum Releasing’s The Concert took $58,000 (£38,000) from 27 screens at a per screen average of $2,146 (£1,409), while Bollywood TV giant B4U Network’s Mel Karade Rabb, made $51,800 (£34,000) from ten screens at an average of $5,200 (£3,400). Mel Karade Rabb is a Punjabi-language musical which re-teams director Navaniat Singh with leading man Jimmy Sheirgill (the two combined last year on Tera Mera Ki Rishta) in a film about Jatt campus culture. Neeru Bajwa and Gippy Grewal also star.

Having finally seen off the distraction of the World Cup, distributors and exhibitors must now be praying for rain after another warm weekend. After all, it was in part thanks to the pitifully bad weather of summer 2008 that Mamma Mia! was able to become the UK’s highest-ever grossing summer release.