The last time Christopher Nolan followed up a "Batman" film was in 2006 with "The Prestige."  Coming off the success of "Batman Begins," the Disney thriller featured two supposed stars: Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine from the "X-Men" franchise) and Christian Bale (Nolan's new Bruce Wayne).  Beautifully shot and with solid reviews, the thriller opened to an incredibly disappointing $14 million on its way to an eventual $53 million U.S. gross.  Many in the industry were left wondering if the "Memento" director could really create a blockbuster without the trappings of "The Dark Knight."  After the debut of "Inception" on Friday, its clear the "Nolan Factor" is in full force.

Opening to $21.3million on Friday, the Leonardo DiCaprio thriller is on its way to what could be a $50-55 million weekend depending on word of mouth.  Critical acclaim is widespread, but "Inception" will have to play in middle America as well as the coasts and there is some concern that may not occur. For DiCaprio, this is second major hit of 2010 after "Shutter Island."  2008's "Body of Lies" and "Revolutionary Road" were financial disappointments, but his films this year continue to prove he's one of the most reliable true stars left on the scene.

While one Burbank studio, Warner Bros., is rejoicing over "Inception," their competitors across town, Walt Disney Studios, are licking their wounds.  In what can only be chalked up to uninspired marketing and a bad release date, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" found only $5.4 million on Friday for a three-day total of $12 million.  Even with a possible matinee bump on Saturday, it will be stunning if the Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel fantasy flick can get to $25 million by Sunday.  Sadly, it's not to early to mark it as one of the true bombs of the summer.

Still playing strongly is the family hit "Despicable Me" with another $10 million and an impressive eight day gross of $95 million. 

Look for complete weekend box office results Sunday on HitFix.