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Weekend Wrap-Up for July 16-18, 2010

Inception Has Glowing Reception

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

July 18, 2010

From the fall line at J.C. Penney...

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Inception was the huge story this weekend at the box office and the film’s performance somehow managed to live up to its hype. Despite some unreasonable expectations placed on it as the de facto sequel to the third most popular domestic release of all time, The Dark Knight, Inception managed to pull off some very impressive box office feats of its own.

$60.4 million is the estimate given to the number one movie of the weekend, Inception. Whether this proves to be as overly optimistic as Depicable Me’s way high estimate remains to be seen. What we know at the moment is that 68 films have opened north of $60 million and Inception is projected to be one of them. How impressive a feat is that? Keep in mind that the body of mega-blockbuster debuts occur with the cinematic release of an existing property such as a popular novel (Harry Potter/Twilight) or comic book (Spider-Man/Batman) or television series (The Simpsons/Transformers) or a sequel (most of the 25 biggest openings of all time).

If you are wondering how rare it is for a completely original property with a totally new premise to debut to $60 million, the answer is shocking. Only a dozen new ideas have managed to open to this level of box office. The best debut for a new property is also the biggest film of all time, Avatar; its $77.0 million opening weekend is only the 32nd largest of all time yet the most lucrative for an unestablished property. Among the remaining 11 films, five are Pixar releases, thereby quantifying why their consistent ability to open a movie to this range is particularly impressive. Each time they create a new entity, they are again rewriting the record book in terms of new ideas turning into new blockbusters. Kung Fu Panda also qualifies under this umbrella for DreamWorks Animation.




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Removing animated releases further narrows the list down to Avatar plus four other live action titles (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Bruce Almighty and Hancock). You will note that two of those are monument porn blockbusters. Only Avatar, Bruce Almighty, Hancock and Signs have previously achieved this level of box office sans any of the ordinary advantages a movie needs to achieve a $60 million debut.

Note that 300 technically does not qualify due to its being based on a graphic novel, but given that the comic in question was relatively obscure outside of its industry, it may not qualify technically but it does under the spirit of my point. Similarly, The Passion of the Christ is clearly based on events of the Bible and that’s why I listed Avatar instead of it as the record setter. So, that’s the list. There are four, five or six new and original live action movie properties that have debuted to $60 million. The fact that Inception is projected to join this list is a box office triumph even though you will have some people express disappointment in various circles.


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