Weekend Forecast for July 16-18, 2010

By Kim Hollis

July 16, 2010

Why do you always get the sniper rifle? Maybe I want to snipe this round.

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After plenty of disappointments on the 2010 summer movie calendar, movie geeks are hoping for some appeasement with the latest movie from director Christopher Nolan. Yes, the man who brought us Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and a little film known as The Dark Knight is back again. This time around, he brings us a completely original story known as Inception.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy (with the last three returning from previous Nolan films), the movie promises to be a mind trip involving dreams. Honestly, I have purposefully avoided spoilers as much as I possibly can, so that's about all I really know about Inception. Hopefully, I'll remain blissfully unaware until I see the movie tomorrow; and you're not really reading this article for plot regurgitation anyway, are you?

The box office prospects for Inception are crazy high. As Josh Spiegel mentions in his A-List column from yesterday, Nolan is a director who has earned himself carte blanche for his next movie (or two) thanks to the rapturous audience and critical response to The Dark Knight. Anyone who is a faithful reader of this site will be fully aware that this second Batman outing for the director opened to a record-setting (and holding) $158.4 million and amassed a mighty $533.3 million at the domestic box office. When international numbers are added in, the movie managed a massive worldwide total of more than a billion dollars. It was the only movie to even approach Titanic's box office domination until James Cameron came along last December and bested himself with Avatar.


More than just a big budget special effects extravaganza a la Transformers, The Dark Knight is also critically beloved on top of all that financial success. Today, the film sits at 93% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator site, and has fans that will shout about its excellence from the rooftops. Of course, much of the movie's great success rides on that unforgettable performance from Heath Ledger as The Joker, a star turn for which he rightfully received a posthumous Academy Award.

It's also not like Nolan hadn't built up plenty of credibility prior to The Dark Knight, either. Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, and of course Batman Begins are all well-regarded films that brought critical recognition as well as exceeding their budgets to be profitable for their studios. What I'm saying here is that Christopher Nolan is one of those rare directors whose name matters for a project. People have bought into what he's selling, and since he really hasn't had a failure yet, even your everyday moviegoers hold him in high esteem.

What does all this mean for the potential box office of Inception? Essentially, it means that a lot of people were willing to buy a ticket for this movie before seeing even one instant of footage or member of the cast. Just the fact that the poster and commercials can say "From the director of The Dark Knight" was enough. Even so, Inception does have a stellar cast, even if Leo is the only A-lister among them. Also, the trailers have been trippy and intriguing - seeing a building fold in on itself is a spectacle that has garnered a lot of attention.

On top of all these positives, the movie is receiving mostly glowing reviews from critics. It currently sits at 84% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, and the word-of-mouth on Twitter, Facebook, and the like is very upbeat. Yet one other tick in the "pro" column is the fact that Inception is being shown in IMAX locations, which will only serve to boost its overall box office tally.

With a lot of people reporting that they're going out in large groups to see Inception, it is looking like it can be a significant player in the summer box office season. Because it does look weird and puzzling to many, it's not going to be your typical crowd-pleaser; nonetheless, it's still going to take advantage of all its positives to open with a more-than-solid number for its first weekend. Inception should come in with about $68 million from Friday-to-Sunday, and thanks to its fabulous reception, will ride that debut to a strong overall box office total. It will have a little work to do to beat its $160 million budget, but I think it will be one of the better box office stories of the year once it's all said and done.

Forecast: Weekend of 7/16-18, 2010
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Inception 3,792 New 68.0
2 Despicable Me 3,501 +25 35.1
3 The Sorcerer's Apprentice 3,504 New 26.0
4 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 4,001 -467 17.1
5 Toy Story 3 3,177 -576 15.7
6 Predators 2,669 No change 12.6
7 Grown Ups 3,074 -389 11.4
8 The Last Airbender 2,805 -398 8.3
9 Knight and Day 1,925 -703 5.8
10 The Karate Kid 1,532 -926 3.3



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