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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How did Warner Bros. accomplish such an impressive debut for an unknown property? Obviously, “from the director of The Dark Knight” helps a lot with the marketing. A sublime cast frontlined by Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t hurt. More than anything else, what I believe aided the film in finding its audience on opening weekend is that Inception was advertised as the Matrix sequel North American audiences wanted rather than the ones they got. The complex physics demonstrated in the action sequences in the trailer all but screams Matrix, and the tantalizing proposition of a Matrix-flavored premise from the “Wanna see a magic trick?” guy drove ticket sales.

What happens next with the project is up for debate. Anyone who has seen Inception already (and if you haven’t, go see it or I will personally drive to your home and spit in your food) recognizes that it’s a challenging film wrought with complexity that will prove divisive to viewers. The younger crowd looking for new ideas to stroke their cerebral cortex is going to champion this while the body of the older crowd is going to wish the movie didn’t talk so much. The reviews and Cinemascore seem to reflect this division as the film is 84% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes (76% among top critics), which is great for an action film but not reflective of a game changer. Similarly, the Cinemascore of B+ is less than I had hoped and also shows that a lot of people find Inception too verbose. I am of the opinion that it will have strong legs and cross $200 million, but that result is far from guaranteed based on available empirical data. Whatever the final result for this project, I believe that Inception is going to become the jumping off point for a lot of brilliant new cinematic ideas over the next few years. Other filmmakers inevitably will attempt to put their own spin on Nolan’s sublime implemention of meticulously layered action sequences.


Despicable Me falls from first to second place this weekend, declining a modest 42% in the process. Remarkably, the $32.7 million estimate for its second frame is what had been expected of it on opening weekend. We mentioned above the $60 million list that Despicable Me had been projected to join according to early weekend estimates before it fell quite a bit short. Its $56.4 million actual debut makes it the 16th largest opening weekend for an entirely new property. With $118.4 million already in the bank, Universal has bought a blockbuster thanks to the genius usage of Minions in every possible media outlet. I also have to believe that a Universal Studios ride isn’t too far behind. Minions are the new Toy Story Space Aliens.

Third place goes to The Sorcerer's Apprentice, producer Jerry Bruckheimer's latest attempt to violate a beloved childhood memory. Loosely based on the Micky Mouse Sorcerer's Apprentice segment in Disney's animated film Fantasia, which was in turn based on a ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the movie was directed by National Treasure's Jon Turtletaub, who went with his go-to guy in the starring role. Yes, Nicolas Cage, whose career includes the highs of The Rock and the aforementioned National Treasure movies as well as the lows of The Wicker Man and Windtalkers, had the starring role. Co-stars included the marvelous Alfred Molina and as the apprentice, Jay Baruchel, who is having a pretty good year thanks to She's Out of My League and his voice work in How to Train Your Dragon.

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