‘Inception’ opens strong with $60 million


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We started our in-depth coverage of “Inception” long before anyone else with the expectation that the film would be the touchstone moment of 2010 cinema. Now, the film’s commercial success story has officially begun, as Ben Fritz of Company Town reports....

Inception,” which was marketed in large part on the appeal of Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan, opened to a strong $60.4 million, according to studio estimates, driven by positive reviews and audience word-of-mouth. But audiences thoroughly rejected Walt Disney Studios’ new live-action version of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” starring Nicolas Cage, which collected just $17.4 million for the weekend and $24.5 million since it opened Wednesday.

In particularly good news for the backers of “Inception,” which was made by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures for a hefty $160 million, ticket sales on Friday were virtually even at $21.6 million, even though Friday grosses were boosted by $3 million from midnight shows among Nolan’s ardent fans who wanted to see the picture right away. That’s a sign of strong word-of-mouth.


The average grade from audiences was a B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore, but that covered a sharp divide by age. Moviegoers under 25 loved “Inception,” giving it an A, while older adults had a mixed reaction, giving it a B-.

Geographically, the film did extremely well in big coastal cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, said Dan Fellman, Warner’s president of domestic distribution. In most smaller cities in the Midwest and South, grosses were average but not extraordinary.

Fellman said he’s hopeful the movie would ride audience buzz, particularly among college-age crowds, to a great performance in the coming weeks. If it holds as well as “The Dark Knight,” “Inception” could end up with a final domestic gross of $200 million and be a major hit.


-- Ben Fritz


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PHOTO: A scene from “Inception” (Warner Bros); bottom, Christopher Nolan at the Hero Complex Film Festival (Los Angeles Times).

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