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By David Poland

The Road To Box Office Hell, Inception Style


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49 Responses to “The Road To Box Office Hell, Inception Style”

  1. jasonbruen says:

    I’m surprised the predictions think Inception will get $70M+. I would have thought $50M would be the prediction. A $70M+ opening would have to be considered a success, right?

  2. Tofu says:

    3 million for midnight showings. This flick could open sub-$50 million or above $75 million at this point.
    Twitter is lovin’ it, that’s for sure.

  3. Anghus Houvouras says:

    70 million for a cerebral summer movie starring Dicaprio.
    Huge… if it gets there.
    Even more huge if the film has legs.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    Is there really going to be a $40-$50 million gap between Inception and Sorcerer’s Apprentice this weekend? I’ve got to think that $18-$20 million would be pretty bad for the latter.

  5. A. E. Ase says:

    You’d think that if it gets there it would definitely have legs.
    The Hotblog is going to be fun this weekend and next.

  6. mutinyco says:

    Didn’t think I would like it, but I did. There’s nothing profound about it — it’s just a really elaborate mouse trap. I think of semi-recent summer movies it most reminded me of Minority Report — basically, Minority Report, James Bond and Eternal Sunshine thrown in a blender with some fast-rising yeast.
    Comparisons to Kubrick are incompetent. There are 2 brief visual homages, but that’s it. Nothing tonally, aesthetically or intellectually similar.

  7. JTag says:

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing the second weekend gross. The last time I was in a theatre in which it was packed and everyone just applauded loudly at the end it was Avatar, so I’m going with Nolan joining Cameron in the two “billion-dollar grossers” club.

  8. NickF says:

    Mutinyco mentioned mousetraps and you know what, there wasn’t enough of that concept in play. Leo test’s Page by having her draw mazes, finally been sold on a very intricate one. Where however in the film is such a concept that our characters must struggle with? Nolan doesn’t have to go Kubrick on us and put a frozen hedge maze in the film, but I’m disappointed that we don’t see anything comparable to the test happening in the dream worlds.

  9. IOv2 says:

    Nick, everything in that film is a maze. Ariadne designed everything as a maze and she brought up Eames asked her to design a special thing at the end of the movie. Everything she designed is a maze for a reason and they keep it from Cobb.

  10. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “From the director of The Dark Knight”
    It’s time to beat your meat, beat your meat, beat your meat
    “From the producer of Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure”
    It’s time to beat your meat, beat your meat, beat your meat
    “Eclipse” plays 16 days and out in a twin theater, replaced by … wait for it … “Cyrus”.

  11. Kelby says:

    Just saw Inception, landmark film. The reaction of the crowd while and after the showing was so positive, it leads me to believe the word of mouth could drive this in the 80mill and above.
    Two major plot hole thought…. (spoilers)
    1- A multimillionaire heir don’t have a private jet to fly his dead dad? He must buy a ticket on some airline? Really?
    2- Cobb wants to see his kids. He’s American. His wife is french. After her death, legal guardian would be her father? Wouldn’t the kids be sent over to France? The whole plot revolve around Cobb getting to his kids, but the kids can go to him, they have European passport.

  12. jeffmcm says:

    Chucky, it gets tiresome to beat about the bush, so: You’re stupid. Why on Earth wouldn’t the studio want to mention that new film was made by the director of one of the most popular and highly-acclaimed popcorn movies of the last decade? Especially when said movie involves cerebral, hard-to-sell concepts? How on earth would YOU prefer to sell the movie? And HAVE YOU SEEN IT?
    And what on Earth is your Eclipse/Cyrus comment supposed to mean? Something good? Something bad? Right now it might as well be ‘At my local supermarket they had a display of Oreos near the front door, and now… Campbell Soup.’ So what????

  13. Chucky in Jersey says:

    I hereby offer “Your Best Suggestions for Dumbing Down Inception’s Marketing Campaign — and Achieving Box-Office Glory!”
    Warner Bros. have dumbed down the campaign already. Just look for the phrase that pays.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    You are spouting gibberish, Chucky.

  15. IOv2 says:

    Kelby, apparently owning and operating is a great expense and that 757 or what not had some awesome freaking seats!
    With the guardianship of his kids, that could not be a plot hole if you get what I mean.

  16. IOv2 says:

    Oh yeah that’s operating a Jet. Nice of me to leave that out.

  17. yancyskancy says:

    Well, it’s been 24 hours and I still don’t quite hate myself for kind of enjoying THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE, so that’s something, right? Totally formulaic “chosen-one” nonsense, over-edited and CGI-reliant, gang-written by five credited hacks, everything that’s wrong with today’s Hollywood in one big package. Maybe what makes it tolerable for me is simply the casting of Jay Baruchel, unprepossessing, nasal-voiced veteran of many an Apatow production, mostly staying above the nonsense in a manner not unlike his co-star, the ubiquitous Nicolas Cage. Add Alfred Molina capably cashing a paycheck as the bad sorcerer and the lovely and appealing (and did I say lovely?) Teresa Palmer as Baruchel’s unlikely and hard-to-faze love interest, and the result is something I’ll remember as a cute romp, to the extent that I remember it at all. Faint praise, I know, and I don’t expect even one person here to agree with any of it (except the part where I say Teresa Palmer is lovely. I did mention that, right?).

  18. Kelby says:

    IOv2, if the guys from the inception team can afford a private jet (that they fly after the opening job), the Fischer empire can afford it. How many billionaire really do fly commercial airlines? But I get the point of the sweet seats, he might be an eccentric that likes to be ‘with the commoners’ like Bill Gates that used to fly only in coach (until he bought his private jet).
    Another possibility to explain Fischer in the 747 would be, and I’m not an expert in international law, but it might be illegal to transport dead body around in private jet. Seems that such a lawwWould make sense to me unless you’re in the CIA. Any lawyer around can help out on this?
    As for the guardianship of the kids, yeah, if the whole film takes place in limbo then there is no plot hole as there can be no plot hole in a dream, just within the logic that film establishes.
    What I think happened (spoiler): When Cobb meet old Saito for the second time, he spins Cobb spinning top. The same that Cobb did to Mal when he planted an idea in her. I believe Saito at this moment plant an idea in Leo’s mind: “The limbo is real”. Remember how weird was the delivery of Cobb at this moment, as if he was hypnotized by the spinning top, loosing grip and memory of his mission. We don’t see Saito pull the trigger we and cut back to the plane, but he’s still in limbo and accepted it as reality.
    Another clue supporting this would be the shot of the kid at the end. It’s the same that where used in the whole film as visions. How can you have memory of the future? He’s still in the limbo. But it’s not the end. After the credits roll, much later, eventually Cobb will wake up to the real world (as I understood in some 50 years of dream time) into the 747. The mission will be a success but his mind, and Saito’s, might have turned to mush. He’ll go to jail, or a mental institute. The End! Oh. And the Juno girl gets paid lots of cash, return to Paris and party like it’s 1999.

  19. IOv2 says:

    Kelby, the top seems to be tipping over when the movie ends, which could mean a lot of things. I am just going to go with Cobb, being free from his guilt, getting his architect abilities back and getting Saito out of limbo that way.
    You also missed that Saito supplied Cobb and Arthur their plane.

  20. Nicol D says:

    First thoughts on Inception…
    I will take solid IMAX over 3-D any day of the week. The presentation at the Scotiabank in TO was fantastic.
    DeCaprio was fantastic as was Ellen Page.
    This is no Kubrick. Really. Anyone who says that knows nothing of Kubrick. This is high end popcorn…nothing more and nothing less.
    As high end popcorn, it mostly works but has no emotional pull through. The recurring images in the film (SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO CARE) should not have been of Cottiard but of his kids. Because we see very little of the paradise that they create or their relationship in the good times, she came off as selfish and whiny.
    If I had to see that one shot of Levitt out cold in the van one more time in slow mo before it fell into the water I was gonna wretch. After the 4th shot of it my audience chuckled. It was cheezy and he had a cheezy expression on his face.
    The snow fortress stuff did not work and felt arbitrary and took me out of the film. I love On Her Majesty’s Secret Service too but it was too much.
    Tom Hardy will be a great Mad Max.
    The stuff where Leo first trains Page and Paris folds over on itself was the best.
    You really require suspension of disbelief for this film. It’s not like they break their own rules…they barely say what the rules are. I know many will disagree, but you are just not asking enough questions.
    The end shot was great.
    Zimmer score was fantastic.
    All in all I liked it…but no where near the “genius” the early fanboys called it. They have egg on their face. A lot of good stuff, but also a bit of a wank off. The Matrix had far more substance and pizazz.

  21. Nicol D says:

    Yeah, Yeah it’s DiCaprio.
    I’m four wines deep.

  22. Kelby says:

    IOv2, you’re right it’s Saito private jet, but still the point stand that a Billionaire wont likely fly a commercial airline. But ok, let’s say he got there because he likes the seats. But… no bodyguards? No entourage? No other family member going to the burial? No business associates? A big shot like him, on his father’s death, traveling alone? No way. It feels really forced and implosible.
    We don’t know for sure if the spinning top fell, I also prefer to believe he’s back in the real world although it leads point the other way.
    In film time, the moment he got back in the plane to when he reunited with his kid happens within minutes, but it probably took hims half a day. Wouldn’t he had spinned the top before, as he always does right when he comes out of the dream world? He doesn’t even look if it will tip, because, he knows it wont and he prefer to be oblivious to the fact he’s still dreaming.

  23. IOv2 says:

    “As high end popcorn, it mostly works but has no emotional pull through. The recurring images in the film (SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO CARE) should not have been of Cottiard but of his kids. Because we see very little of the paradise that they create or their relationship in the good times, she came off as selfish and whiny.”
    I have to disagree with all of this. The high end popcorn thing simply does not work. If this were high end popcorn, the ending would be much different, and we all know that ending is what it is for a reason. Once you go all provocative with an ending, you drive out of the popcorn area.
    That aside, Cotillard does what she does best… sell pain. She sold the pain of a broken woman and that always works for me in terms of her performances. Cotillard sells serious misery and she’s miserable through out this movie and that misery is what leads to what Cobb goes through.
    Again, you do not have to see paradise to know that these two people loved one another and it broke both of them. That’s moving to me but I enjoy Nolan’s film and have never found them to be cold or distant.

  24. Anghus Houvouras says:

    Fisher takes the airline because Saito sets it up that the charter plane can’t leave so he’ll be forced to fly commercial.
    There’s a couple of lines before that explain it befor Saito says “i bought the airline”
    It is addressed.

  25. IOv2 says:

    Kelby or he’s not dreaming and his wife happened to be right.

  26. Kelby says:

    How to tell the difference between a brainy and a pop-corn action flick:
    Pop-Corn: Hero get his shirt off.
    Brainy: Hero keep his shirt on.

  27. Nicol D says:

    I do not find Nolan’s films cold either. That is why I say high end popcorn. I do not mean that as an insult. Nolan is trying to make intelligent entertainment for the masses.
    This is not 2001 or A Clockwork Orange or The Thin Red Line. The ideas are not complex. They only take a long time to explain because there are so many plot points.
    Sorry, but just seeing the two make sandcastles was not enough for me. She came off as whiny and selfish. Her beauty aside, why would he want her? We are never told or shown.
    That is a major flaw for me.

  28. Kelby says:

    IOv2, the theory that Mal (which literally means “Evil” in french) is right is a very interesting one. Then, she did the right thing by jumping out the window ledge. But… if we accept the rule that a spinning top is a sure way to test if it’s a dream or not, then the film does start in the real world (after the first job, where Cobb assemble his team). But, as soon as Cobb enter the dream world anything can be plausible.
    Another interesting theory: What if… everything is a dream from the moment Yusuf sedates Cobb in the basement. Did he made the spinning top test successfully at any other point after that moment?

  29. Kelby says:

    Nicol D, we are never told or shown about Mal because she’s only a projection from the subconscious of Cobb, not the real Mal. “… only a faded an pale reflection..” or smthing he said at her toward the end.

  30. IOv2 says:

    Nicol, I will admit that the whole popcorn thing bugs me but I am with Kelby. Popcorn is a different thing all together but if that’s the way you see it, that’s the way you see it.
    I also disagree with you on this idea. It’s a pretty complicated idea that involves the layer of the subconscious with a set of rules as to how you can deal with the dream rules. If you and mutiny do not find it deep and enthralling, good for you, but I enjoyed it more than most “GOING INSIDE OF DREAMS” movies.
    Finally, I love Cotillard’s eyes and how they sell misery and pain. Yes, she does not say very much and she is a very beautiful woman, but she can sell soulcrushing pain and misery better than most and Leo gave the background to their pain. They did live a long life together and being away from it cost her.
    Oh yeah, Kelby, what if Cobb’s mind started to bleed through between he real world and the dream? His kids sounded much older on the phone than those kids he kept seeing, so what if his mind being bent by all of those dreams, decided to see them as how he last saw them and now how old they were at that point? It could explain why the top is teetering on the edge of toppling over?

  31. IOv2 says:

    Yeah sorry about the typos. Apparently I need to keep my foot out of the way of the IR senor of the keyboard more often.

  32. Kelby says:

    There is no dream. The film is not about dreams. It can be replaced time machine, portals, parallel universe etc. It’s only a container, a plot device for Nolan to set a thriller on four different timelines to create suspense and tension in any other way portrayed in film before. That’s why there is no more rules or explanations of the ‘dream logic’because the film is not about dreams.

  33. Joe Straat says:

    For me, I’m putting Inception on the same perch as I did The Prestige when I first saw it. I saw a really good movie, and I expect I will think better of it when I see it again. But right now, I don’t think I have all the pieces. What I can say is I was taken with the whole experience. It’s interesting that DiCaprio has this and Shutter Island back-to-back given what the characters are going through are similar. Not the same by any means (Marion Cotillard feels more like a slightly altered version of Natasha McElhone’s character in Solaris). I like this one better because I felt it more (Though I do need to see Shutter Island again as well. The dream sequence with his wife that was supposed to be heartbreaking seemed off to me because she was unnaturally feeding him plot information, but I need to see it again knowing what I know from the end of the movie).
    The only thing I didn’t like was that Nolan’s action style still cuts too much and doesn’t really give any sense of spatial relation most of the time. I’m okay with it in the Batman movies, but when you’re moving through three layers of action at one time, it gets very rough, especially when both the protagonists and antagonists are wearing white parkas in one layer. I know spatial relation in action sequences are the hardest things to pull off, filming-wise, but the climax really needed that extra carefulness and it’s only here in Nolan’s elegant juggling routine that he drops a ball or two.
    But hey, I love occasionally imperfect movies that reach for the stars more than I like perfect movies that hit the easy targets, which is probably why Nolan’s my favorite director right now. Inception’s a quality piece of work and I look forward to my next encounter with it.

  34. Nicol D says:

    It does not matter if she is real or not. Her relation to Cobb is the emotional sell through an it does not work. Not enough. The kids are what work and they are barely in it. They are the image that Nolan should have chosen. But we need a female love interest…hence popcorn.
    I really do not mean the popcorn thing to bug you. I love popcorn movies and this is a good film. I do not hate it by any means and love Nolan. But this is not a film about the nature of man and the human spirit. It is not a film about how we relate to each other. It is a gimmick. A clever Rubick’s Cube for a summer night. Nothing at all wrong with that. But that is the context.
    I think we are just so used to dumbed down popcorn films that that term comes off as an insult. Empire Strikes Back is a popcorn film and it is one of the best films I have ever seen. Blade Runner and Alien were also intended as summer popcorn films. This is not an insult. Just trying to provide context.
    Popcorn does not have to mean Dumb. It’s only since Twister that we started getting really dumb popcorn flicks.

  35. Kelby says:

    IOv2, the question you raise is about the point of view of the camera. Are we an objective, neutral observer and everything onscreen is really what is happening – or- what we see if from the mind of Cobb, therefore reality can be bent into the dream world like you suggest.
    I think that the point of view of this film is, what we see is really what happens.

  36. IOv2 says:

    Kelby it is a film about dreams and about ideas. There are rules. Rules that are explained by Arthur and Cobb to Ariadne. There are very detailed rules and explanations about how things work and why the work and why the whole thing falls apart if certain kicks are not met.

  37. Kelby says:

    They don’t even start explaining the rules. They only mention the ones that will be used later in some plot-knock. All of them. What about a rule that is not to boost the dense layers of tension? None. What about… in a Dream you gain 5 pounds. Well… ok. So what? Maybe. Maybe they have thousands of plot-less ‘dream rules’ that they don’t bother explain. Who knows?

  38. IOv2 says:

    Nicol, I understand your point completely but, there’s always a but, I think the idea of a good popcorn movie has been burnt down to the ground thanks to Twister and the first two Mummy films.
    Again, I get your point and I am know you are not going out of your way to be a jerk or anything, so it’s all good in the hood as we say here in the hood.

  39. Kelby says:

    I was eating pop-corn when I watched Inception today. Medium size and large Dr Pepper.

  40. IOv2 says:

    I always go with nachos. Nachos make life better.

  41. Joe Straat says:

    I had sweet tea. Not being snobbish at all. I’ve simply been hitting the junk food a little too hard lately, and my stomach has been none too happy with it. Granted, I know sweet tea’s not that much better for me….

  42. Kelby says:


  43. Kelby says:

    Funny how people complains so much about the 3d xtra to pay for the films when the junk food they sell is a much bigger scam. 7.50 for a Hot Dog, yeah. A combo will cost you more then the admission ticket.

  44. IOv2 says:

    My concessions are not as bad but those personal pan pizzas are expensive!

  45. Kelby says:

    I went to a cinema on a small Spanish Island and the funny thing is they stopped the film midpoint for a 10 min break and opened the curtain to reveal a bar with pop, alcohol, chips and tapas. If it could only happen here, better bump than the 3d you can be certain.

  46. Bodhizefa says:

    This shocked me, but the theatre in my area wasn’t even close to selling out any show for the film. The closest they got for any showtime was 50% capacity. I’m sure that’s not indicative of every single location, but I think the opening weekend expectations may need to be dampened a bit. This film might have legs due to it being genuinely good, but I think there’s a chance it may disappoint some pundits who thought it would explode out of the gate.

  47. Chucky in Jersey says:

    I’m not shocked. Megaplexes tend to overbook the tentpole pictures at the expense of adult and arty fare. I figured that out with “Shrek” when it opened in May 2001.
    It’s better to open 2 prints and sell out than open 4 prints and not sell out.

  48. leahnz says:

    am i losing my marbles or crossed over into bizarro world because apart from the random ‘shrek’ thing, that actually made sense to me

  49. Anghus Houvouras says:

    The first 5 screenings in my town were sold out. At 2 different theaters.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon