Typing Faster

July 22, 2010

Inception, Christopher Nolan and Leverage

Filed under: Features, the biz — petertypingfaster @ 7:00 am

So judging by the latest from Box Office Mojo a good chunk of you have gone to see Inception by now. Personally I loved it.

But this isn’t going to be a love in for Inception, at least not directly. Nor is it a review. Why spoil it? You should just go see it. No, what I’d like to do in this space is just marvel at the fact that it even got made.

I mean lets face facts. This movie is smart. Sure its got the requisite mind bending special effects (I have one friend who refuses to see it because he thinks it’s just going to be another Transformers Michael Bay special effects bonanza), but it’s incredibly complex at the same time. Multiple layers of reality, dreams within dreams, I mean could you imagine trying to pitch a movie like that to today’s studio execs?

Making this movie took balls, and while the party line at Warner Bros is that they backed Nolan all the way, I can’t help but be a bit skeptical. Making movies is a risky business, and studios in this day and age have become increasingly risk averse. Inception? One big ass risk. No, I strongly doubt that Warner Bros was thrilled about making Inception, in fact I’d be willing to put money that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into making this movie.

Which brings me to the lesson of all this: Never underestimate the power of leverage when it comes to forcing studios to let you do what you want to do.

You may have heard of the little movie Christopher Nolan shot before Inception. Something about a Batman I remember rightly. I think it did pretty well too.

Warner Bros was desperate to have Nolan start working on the sequel posthaste, but when they realized they couldn’t get the script ready in time, they offered him a whole bunch of sequels, prequels, reboots, adaptations, and movies-based-on-popular-toys to choose from.

Instead Nolan said “Hey, how about we make this little movie I’ve been fiddling with for ten years about thieves that steal from your dreams?”

I can only imagine the silence in the boardroom when he threw that idea out there.

Warner Bros didn’t really have much of a choice though. Christopher Nolan’s become one of their geese that lays billion dollar golden eggs. If “all” it takes is letting him shoot a $160 million dollar art house sci-fi flick, then you whip open your checkbook and start writing.

That’s the power of leverage.



  1. “Look around you. You’ll see two Warner Bros. executives, a studio accountant, couple off-duty producers and the studio president. I wouldn’t have a second’s hesitation of pitching Inception right here, right now in front of them. Now, that’s power you can’t buy. That’s the power of leverage.”

    Comment by Richard Barrett — July 22, 2010 @ 7:46 am

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