Nicole Sperling
July 15, 2010 AT 09:36 PM EDT

Image Credit: Stephen VaughanThis weekend is all about mind games. Chistopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) is playing a big one on audiences with Inception while Nicolas Cage is seeing if he can educate his student Jay Baruchel in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The results are likely to be markedly different. Inception is set to score big, though the long run time and narrow swath of the movie-going public that’s itching to take the trip are going against the challenging film. Apprentice, despite audience enjoyment, is suffering from a muddled marketing campaign and an unmotivated audience. The film opened to a weak $3.9 million on Wednesday, a number that will likely not help build the word-of-mouth that Disney was counting on. Read on for the numbers.

1. Inception: $60 million

Tracking shows that Chris Nolan’s mind-bending ride will open between $50 and $60 million. But that has to be low. Between the reviews, the word-of-mouth and the must-see factor of seeing it in its first weekend, the opening will likely be closer to $60 million. What the film, from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, has going against it is a two-hour-plus run time and a small demographic of moviegoers dying to see it. (Those who are are primarily men between 17-34.) The film is long, but it’s bowing in 3,792 theaters, including a record 197 IMAX locations.

2. Despicable Me: $33 million

This animated hit from Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment proves that Pixar hasn’t completely cornered the market on imaginative, fun kid fare. Audiences loved the film opening weekend and, during the week, have added some $15 million to the film’s coffers, which now stand at $72 million. With such a strong weekday showing, expect a 40 percent drop its sophomore session, which will clearly put the film north of $100 million after a mere ten days in theaters.

3. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: $18 million

The studio is hoping it can hit $20 million over the three-day frame but that may be wishful thinking. Audiences like the film, but a muddled marketing message coupled with weak opening numbers could torpedo its potential. Rated PG, the film stars Nicolas Cage as a wild wizard out to teach Jay Baruchel the tricks of the trade. Based on an animated short in Fantasia, the film should be doing better than this. It’s not helping that it is the first film under Disney’s new president of marketing’s regime. Hopefully round two will yield better results.

4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: $16 million

Closing in on $250 million, Twilight Saga: Eclipse is officially a blockbuster. The film is tracking right along with last year’s Twilight Saga: New Moon, but the summer release date should put it ahead of its predecessor soon. Expect another 50 percent drop this weekend.

5. Toy Story 3: $15 million

Closing in on $350 million, Toy Story 3 is officially Pixar’s highest grossing film. And don’t expect it to abate any time soon. The movie will likely drop off another 30 percent this frame, adding another $15 million to its coffers. My guess is it will come out as the highest-grossing film of the summer.

Check back this weekend for a full report.

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