Last week I predicted that Christopher Nolan's Inception would be a good film but a flop. In the interest of testing my predictive powers, it's worth noting the film had a decent first-weekend box office of $60 million. However, we'll have to wait until the next week to see if it has holding power or merely played to the general SF fan base and the director's own fans.
By way of comparison, the SF film Serenity opened with ticket sales of $10 million its first week against a budget of nearly $40 million. Unfortunately, Serenity's box office dropped off sharply in following weeks and it only ended up making just over half of its budget back (which doesn't include the cost of ads and marketing). This suggests the film--while a great space opera film--only played to the genre's fan base.
At $60 million, Inception played to more than merely the genre base--obviously the opening also attracted all the Nolan fans out there. However, like Serenity it still earned roughly a quarter of its $200 million budget (again, not counting its massive ad and marketing campaign, and yes, I realize $60 million is slightly more than a quarter of $200 million, but I'm using Hollywood math here to make a point :-). Anyway, in order to determine if the film is successful or not the next week will be critical. Most Hollywood films these days experience a 50% or greater box office drop in their second week. If Inception can avoid this, then I will be wrong and the film will be a moderate to big success. If word of mouth doesn't bring in the audiences and it experiences a large drop off like Serenity did, then it will be on its way to flopping.
I'll write more on this in a week once the trend is clear.