‘Inception’ leads box office, ‘Apprentice’ flops

LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) – So what if “Inception” is  incomprehensible? The costly sci-fi thriller opened at No. 1 at the weekend  box office in North America yesterday, pulling in $60.4 million  from moviegoers happy to be vexed by one of the few big  original pictures of the summer, according to estimates issued  by distributor Warner Bros. Pictures.

The weekend’s other big new release failed to whip up any  magic amid poor reviews. Nicolas Cage’s “The Sorcerer’s  Apprentice” bombed at No. 3 with just $17.4 million in weekend  ticket sales.

Last weekend’s champion, the family cartoon “Despicable  Me,” slipped to No. 2 with $32.7 million.

“Inception,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a thief who  steals secrets from deep within people’s subconscious, was  written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the English  filmmaker responsible for the last two “Batman” movies. It set  a new personal best for DiCaprio, surpassing the $41 million  start for “Shutter Island” in February.
Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc., partnered on the  $160 million project with studio-based financier Legendary  Pictures, and they spent more than $100 million on the  marketing. Pundits had forecast an opening in the $50 million  to $60 million range.

The film also earned $15.6 million from seven foreign  markets, led by a first-place, $8.6 million opening in Britain.  The film adds 29 countries next weekend.

Critics heaped praise on “Inception,” even if many of them  were not exactly sure what it was about, or advised that it  might require multiple viewings.

In a caustic review, the Wall Street Journal suggested the  film was “impervious to criticism, simply because no one short  of a NASA systems analyst will be able to articulate the  plot.”

Nolan, who turns 40 later this month, came up with the idea  of “Inception” a decade ago, citing a fascination with the  relationship of people’s waking and dreaming lives.

Warner Bros. said the movie played strongest with those  aged 18 to 34, with exit polling data “above the norms.” Men  accounted for 56 percent of the audience, and the movie did  better in the major cities.

“It’s a smart film, and if you’re a smart person you’ve got  to put on your seat belt and enjoy the ride,” said Dan Fellman,  the studio’s president of domestic distribution.

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