'Inception': Are We Witnessing the Birth of the Next Billion-Dollar Movie Franchise?

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

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Some notes about, and context for, the latest weekly Trendrr chart, a collaboration between Advertising Age and social-media tracking service Trendrr Pro:

  • After the VIP premiere of "Inception" in London last week, The Guardian slapped this cheeky headline on a slideshow of the red-carpet festivities: "Inception: the UK premiere ... or was it all a dream?" Har-dee-har; get it? Because "Inception" is about (per the promo materials) "a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion." It's no exaggeration to say that it's the most anticipated film of the year, given that it's directed by Christopher Nolan, the cult-director-gone-mainstream who became a critical darling with the 2000 release of his "Memento" and whose 2008 "Dark Knight," also a critical hit, is one of only six films in history to have surpassed $1 billion in worldwide box office.

  • As the Geekosystem blog noted last week in a post titled "Critics Drool Over Inception: Compare It to 'The Matrix,' Bond Films, Kubrick and Coppola," the early reviews have been generally rapturous. One notable exception (in a piece published after Geekosystem's round-up): New York Magazine film critic David Edelstein, who just trashed "Inception," writing that "With its dreams, dreams within dreams, and dreams within dreams within dreams, Christopher Nolan's 'Inception' manages to be clunky and confusing on four separate levels of reality." But guess what? Edelstein was one of the few critics who, back in 2008, hated on Nolan's "Dark Knight" ("The novelty wears off and the lack of imagination, visual and otherwise, turns into a drag").
  • 'Inception'
  • So far "Inception" isn't dominating Twitter buzz, but the growth curve this week is impressive. In one peak hour yesterday, 2,042 tweets name-checked "Inception." There's been an average of 436 tweets an hour, 24 hours a day, since July 10. By comparison, "Salt" -- the title of the Angelina Jolie vehicle that opens next week -- has been name-checked an average of 349 times an hour since July 10, but it's such a generic term that it appears that a lot of "salt" tweets have nothing to do with the movie. In fact, the one and only Justin Bieber massively skewed the stats when he arrived in Utah on Saturday and tweeted "Salt Lake City is super chill. Air just feels clean. Feels like it's gonna be a good day." That tweet is vaguely labeled "Retweeted by 100+ people," but Twitter Search is a little more specific, revealing "2,000+" retweets.
  • Essential reading: My colleague Kunur Patel's report on the marketing of the movie. "Warner Bros.," she writes, "has opted to dial up the mystery rather than explain the convoluted story that blends espionage and dreams."
  • One guy who definitely thinks the convoluted plot is a plus: "Inception" star Leonardo DiCaprio. "Look," he told USA Today at last night's red-carpet premiere in L.A., "if people want to go see it repetitively to get a clear definition of what they think this film is, that's better for us." It's also, of course, better for social-media buzz: I predict that impassioned fan interpretations, deconstructions and arguments about the finer points of the plot will cause "Inception" to totally explode on Twitter this weekend.

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Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr, a social- and digital-media tracking service, and Curatorr, a social media filtering and publishing platform. More background here. Trendrr offers a free trial account; Trendrr Pro, which offers more robust tracking and reporting tools, comes in various paid flavors (get the details here).

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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