How did basketball fanatic Spike Lee score the biggest slam dunk of his career with Inside Man? Just check out the all-stars he had on his team: Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster. The dynamic duo are two of the last big-ticket names that can attract the kind of vast and, more important, complementary crowds that lead to $29 million openings. ''We're in a world where stars appear to not have the same power that they once had,'' says producer Brian Grazer. ''And then something like this proves that they [can still do it]. It's a validation of their bankability.''
The numbers say it all. After just one week, the $45 million-budgeted bank-heist thriller already stands to pass Lee's 1992 biopic Malcolm X (which earned $48.2 million) as his biggest box office hit. And not only is Inside Man the top opener ever for both Lee and Washington, its first-weekend take is greater than the openings of the pair's last three collaborations combined. All of which has left Universal surprised its internal tracking predicted an $18 million debut and thrilled. ''When we started the movie...this cast felt really good,'' says Grazer. Little did he know how right he was.