Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures’ sci-fi spectacle Inception from Christopher Nolan soared to the top in its opening weekend on an estimated $60.4m.

The launch was towards the top of end what had been a variety of projections for Nolan’s eagerly anticipated first release since 2008’s The Dark Knight.

Leonard DiCaprio – enjoying his biggest debut in North America – stars alongside Marion Cottilard, Jason Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page as corporate spies who enter people’s dreams.

Universal’s animated Despicable Me fell to second place on $32.7m for an excellent $118.4m after two weekends, while Disney’s family adventure The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Nicolas Cage disappointed in third place on $17.4m, rising to $24.5m since the Wednesday launch.

Most of the other films shunted down a place or two. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in fourth has amassed $264.9m through Summit after a mere three weekends, while Disney’s Toy Story 3 in fifth place sands at $362.7m after five.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Sony’s action thriller Salt starring Angelina Jolie and Live Schreiber; and Fox’s family film Ramona & Beezus.

Estimated Top 10 North America July 16-18 2010

Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Inception (Warner Bros) WBPI $60.4m –

2 (1) Despicable Me (Universal) UPI $32.7m $118.4m

3 (-) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $17.4m $24.5m

4 (2) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Summit) Summit Int’l $13.5m $264.9m

5 (4) Toy Story 3 (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $11.7m $362.7m

6 (6) Grown Ups (Sony) SPRI $10m $129.3m

7 (5) The Last Airbender (Paramount) PPI $7.5m $114.8m

8 (3) Predators (Fox) Fox Int’l $6.8m $40.1m

9 (7) Knight & Day (Fox) $3.7m $69.2m

10 (8) The Karate Kid (Sony) SPRI $2.2m $169.2m