'Inception' could deliver box office dream

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The sci-fi thriller Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Christopher Nolan, is expected to rule the box office this weekend. While it might not break records like Nolan's last hit, The Dark Knight, it should be a $50 million blockbuster in North America.

Cinemas offered midnight screenings on Thursday night and select IMAX theaters around the country will enhance the experience - and ticket price.

According to Fandango, the largest online ticket seller in the US, Inception is the weekend's top seller with 52 percent of the advance seats. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is selling at 18 percent, just above last weekend's 3D hit Despicable Me at 15 percent. So it looks likely that the battle for No. 2 will be between family films, Apprentice and Despicable.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice opened July 14 in hopes of getting a jump on the box office over Inception, earning $3.4 million the first day. The Jerry Bruckheimer fantasy action-adventure, starring Nicolas Cage, Alfred Molina and Jay Baruchel ( How to Train Your Dragon), is also offering a special two-for-one ticket deal as an added incentive to draw moviegoers.

But as the most anticipated film of July, according to Box Office Mojo, the mind-bending Inception should be the biggest film attraction this weekend, despite how well kids' movies have performed this summer, from Shrek to Toy Story 3.

Expectations are high for Inception, also starring Marion Cotillard ( Nine) and Ellen Page ( Juno), but reviews state the film matches the anticipation. Nolan is considered the "No. 1 Greatest Working Director," per Entertainment Weekly magazine.

In a survey conducted by Fandango, which sells tickets online to 16,000 cinema screens, results suggest reasons for the peak interest in Inception. It also indicates that DiCaprio and Nolan are box office gold:

• 93 percent said they were more intrigued to see Inception because so little had been revealed of the film's plot.
• 82 percent are interested in seeing Leonardo DiCaprio's performance.
• 81 percent said they were fans of Christopher Nolan's work.
• 66 percent said they were tired of the summer sequels and reboots.