Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Tom Berenger, Tom Hardy, and Michael Caine, Nolan's well-received sci-fi/thriller took in $13.23 million, while the Phillip Noyce-directed Angelina Jolie vehicle Salt was slightly behind, with a solid $12.7 million on opening day.
Down one spot, Despicable Me, featuring the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, and others, took in $7.32 million at no. 3. That's a remarkable beginning for the animated feature's third weekend out.
At no. 4, new entry Ramona and Beezus collected only $3 million at 2,719 venues ($1,103 average). Weekend total should hover around $10 million.
Somewhat surprisingly, next in line was Adam Sandler's Grown Ups, which scored $2.4 million at no. 7. The widely panned comedy has remained quite popular, especially on weekends.
Down an alarming four spots after losing about 1,000 theaters, the Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart-Taylor Lautner romantic fantasy The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, brought in $2.37 million in eighth place.
Rounding out the top twelve were M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender with $1.2 million, Nimród Antal's Predators with $850,000, Julianne Moore's The Kids Are All Right with $710,000, Cameron Diaz's Knight and Day with $525,000.
Among the top twelve movies, The Kids Are All Right had once again the highest per-theater average, $3,532, followed by Salt with $3,516 and Inception with $3,489. Knight and Day had the lowest, $415.
After going from 38 to 201 theaters, The Kids Are All Right posted the biggest Friday-to-Saturday increase, up 479.6 percent. It was followed by Grown Ups with an impressive up 75.3 percent despite having lost more than 200 locations.
Predators, after losing 800 sites, had the lowest up 9.8 percent.
Photos: Inception (Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros.); Salt (Andrew Schwartz / Columbia Pictures)