For most people I know (ie, people who’ve read a book and think Two and a Half Men is stupid), Inception is the only must-see movie of the summer. Director of the Dark Knight, Leonardo DiCaprio, huge budget — easy sell, right? Well apparently, the marketing people are having a hard time with it. Because these days, people only know how to sell stuff they’ve already seen other people sell. Inception? Sounds risky. How about a Knight Rider reboot?
“Nobody thinks it’s a bad movie,” an executive from a rival studio stressed. “The question is whether it’s going to be the real breakout picture that everybody seems to think or just the darling of the East and West coasts and miss the rest of the country.”
There lies the rub: how to entice Middle America without a lot of complicated explication? The Nolan and DiCaprio connections obviously help, not to mention a supporting cast including Michael Caine, Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard. But what’s a marketing challenge like this doing in the middle of popcorn-pic season?
“I worked on Marmaduke, and sh*t, that was easy. Hell, I’ve been putting sunglasses on dogs since 1974. But with this here Nolan picture, where do I put the glasses? Hell, there ain’t even a record scratch. It’s the damnest thing you ever saw.”
Awareness has been slow to spread, but a high percentage of those with knowledge of the film show a “definite interest” in seeing “Inception.” Executives around town offer an unusually wide range of projections for the opening weekend, at $40 million-$60 million.
Nolan’s penchant for cinematic riddles has some suggesting the picture basically is a big-ticket art film. Cost estimates run upward of $160 million on “Inception,” which totes a 148-minute running time. “It’s the most expensive version of ‘Memento’ you could ever make,” an exec from a rival studio quipped, referring to Nolan’s acclaimed 2000 debut. “But it is unique in the marketplace, and I credit them for that.”
“Well I’ll be got-damned, they made a movie with an original premise. I say good luck, ya wacky sons a bitches, but count me out!”
But the question remains: Will Warners’ good — and original — deed go unpunished by the marketplace? “You really haven’t seen that 18- to 35-year-old crowd mobilized this summer,” a marketing exec from another studio said. “So this could become the cool and hip movie to see — kind of like ‘The Matrix.'”
But Warners opened that leggy 1999 hit in March, with “Matrix” topping out at $171.5 million domestically. To do much better, the studio might have to sustain pricey picture marketing longer than usual if word-of-mouth proves as vague as prerelease buzz. [Reuters via Yahoo]
I try not to be earnest too often because it gives me indigestion, but I’m going to be serious for a second here, folks: Please see this movie. And bring your friends. Because if this tanks, we are f*cked.