How Much Does an Inception Cost?

UPDATE: Greetings, visitors from IMDb and beyond! As several commenters have noted already, the math in here’s a little sketchy. I stick by my salary estimates, but several salient points have already been raised about the judiciousness of investing in an airline. Also: I don’t know what ROAA means. Fortunately, the beauty of blogs vs. print is that folks can wander in and point out where I strayed. Sound off in the comments and check out our less spurious Inception posts.

Inception takes place in the glossy but seedy world of corporate espionage. Most heist movies (like the recently released Takers, the Michael Mann classic Heat or grittier movies like Dog Day Afternoon) feature a team of criminals who are in it for themselves. They take down big scores to line their pockets. Their gain is someone else’s loss. And while the fictional criminals of Leverage and Burn Notice may target crooked corporations instead of banks, they’re still calling their own shots.

Inception is one of a few heist movies where the thieves aren’t freelancers – they’re contractors. They’re hired on by one corporation to rob from another. Saito hires Cobb to break up Fischer’s company. So that raises the question: is this a profitable investment for Saito? Just how much does an inception cost?

The Extractor

Cobb is the operative in charge of extracting the actual information from the target’s brain: the secret formula from Saito’s subconscious, or (later in the movie) reaching the point of inception. He has to survey the grounds of the subject’s dream, interrogate them without giving away his motives and acquire the goods. The closest legitimate profession to his is that of a private investigator.

Extractor salary: $40,541 (source)

The Point Man

Arthur’s job is to stay on the scene, keeping an eye out for trouble and intervening. He has to keep everyone on schedule and cover things that the others miss. While the extractor focuses, looking for a target, the point man has to look out for the big picture. The closest professional equivalent is a senior project manager.

Point man salary: $97,799 (source)

The Architect

Ariadne is responsible for designing the layout of a dream. Her job is to give it verisimilitude without connecting it too strongly to a real place. Invest a dream with too much reality and its your subconscious that drives it, not the mark’s. Ariadne might have been an entry-level architect had she taken a legitimate career. As it is, now she gets to play in virtual space.

Architect salary: $56,637 (source)

The Forger

Eames, the forger, guides the mark in by posing as a familiar face. This requires the ability to study someone intently, adopt their mannerisms and fool someone who knows them. Given the fact that Eames not only has to study his target, but communicate what he learns to his team as well, he’s closer to a drama coach than anything else.

Forger salary: $41,467 (source)

The Chemist

Yusuf, the chemist, makes the extraction possible. He concocts the sedatives that keep the mark under and heighten their sensory experience. The ability to accurately judge the chemical dosages required to sedate someone without killing them takes a lot of study. Yusuf would probably draw the salary of a pharmacist if he had a real world job.

Chemist salary: $108,039 (source)

Total Salaries for an Extraction Team: $344,483. Call it an even $350K.

inception-leonardo-dicaprio

“Hold on,” you’re asking. “Cobb’s in charge and he’s making the least money?” That may offend our Western sensibilities, but there’s nothing that says the layout of Cobb’s team is the default. Maybe on rival teams, the architect calls all the shots. The movie certainly implies that. It’s established that Cobb used to be an architect, but his continued obsession with Mal put the rest of his team at risk. So now he’s a grunt, padding it out on the front lines. The rest of the team still defers to him because he was in charge for so long.

So an extraction – and, in turn, an inception – costs $350,000. But, to quote another Christopher Nolan movie, is it worth the cost?

41 Comments on “How Much Does an Inception Cost?”

  1. Kyu #

    Cobb’s Law: As the length of an article about the movie ‘Inception’ increases, so does the likelihood that the article will conclude with the idea that somebody besides Cobb performed an inception on somebody else. Corollary: Theories about the plot will fill both somebodies with a character; discussions of the film’s quality will fill the former with “Christopher Nolan” and the latter with “you, the audience”.

    By the way, the salaries of professional people are not equivalent to the salaries of professional people performing the same work in an illegal capacity. The work is more dangerous, job security is lower, and the workforce is smaller.

     
    • John Perich #

      As the length of an article about the movie ‘Inception’ increases, so does the likelihood that the article will conclude with the idea that somebody besides Cobb performed an inception on somebody else.

      Ha! This is true.

      The work is more dangerous, job security is lower, and the workforce is smaller.

      The last two are compelling reasons why the salary would be lower than in a straight job. There’s no form of collective bargaining, no place for professionals to openly advertise their services, and no sense of what the other guy is making. This gives employers the edge in setting prices.

      Obviously, the salary won’t be exactly the same. But it’s a starting point. And, as the latter half of the article asserts, the dollar value is almost irrelevant. You could double the salaries and Saito still makes a killing.

       
      • Will #

        That’s not … actually how it works. Because if the legal stuff payed better, they’d just do criminal work.

        Furthermore:
        The people aren’t necessarily hired for a whole year.
        You really don’t need to finance someone’s entire gubernatorial campaign to bribe them like that.
        Buying an airline has benefits as well as costs. Now you have an airline.

         
        • John Perich #

          The people aren’t necessarily hired for a whole year.

          I’m presuming that, action movie logic notwithstanding, you can’t do more than one of these jobs in a year. I figure Cobb spends, on average, 3 months planning an op, 1 month executing and 8 months running from his various enemies.

           
          • Cody #

            I was going to make this same point. I think comparing yearly wages to “Incepting” someone (I hope I just made that up) is apples and oranges. I think you would have been better off starting with contract workers of various kinds and see how much long term projects and see how much they charge. I’m pretty sure they don’t get benefits. Shoot, they may get an hourly rate that is like $50 or something, in which case they may make a lot more than what you came up with.

             
          • Cody #

            Plus, we’re talking about VERY specialized positions. For example, comparing the one to a pharmacist is flawed because the market dictates the wage of normal pharmacists. If you are a highly specialized pharmacist, the wage could be significantly more, especially, as I suggested, we talk about it being contract/freelance pay. I’ve never heard of a freelance pharmacist, so I understand how this would be hard to research.

            One big assumption you may be missing (and I may have missed it in the article) is that you can assume that Incepting (used it again) is VERY specialized work. You can’t go to school and learn it, plus there are next to NO people who do it. So for these reasons and more, you’re probably just better off saying they are traditional robbers with specializations like normal theives (explosives, men in charge of breaking into the safe, etc etc). With that, the wage is very different.

             
  2. Alexandra #

    Cobb makes way more money than that. I think the closest legitimate profession would be some sort of Quasi-Military Criminal Profiling/Interrogation job. And the fact that it’s illegitimate means you can just double the salary you got. I mean, he has to buy his own benefits, right?

    They’re also all at the top of their fields, and so basing your estimation on any kind of average salary would be wrong.

    Also, an inception would cost way more than a regular old extraction, since it’s supposed to be unpossible.

    I assumed that they each got at least a quarter mil, probably more.

     
    • John Perich #

      And the fact that it’s illegitimate means you can just double the salary you got.

      Why do you presume that criminals make more money than law-abiding citizens? Sure, in the movies they do, but the point of this article is to apply real-world logic to a narrative.

      Anyhow, even if you doubled what the entire team made, Saito still makes a killing. And that’s the point of the article.

       
      • Alexandra #

        Good point, then?

         
  3. Jon Eric #

    Sorry, Perich, I gotta echo the above comments here. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say that Cobb only made 40-grand from the job because that’s what your average P.I. makes. He’s the best of the best in an underground field, doing something that is both illegal and unprecedented. $350,000 seems on the low side for an extraction; for an inception it’s highway robbery.

     
    • John Perich #

      No apologies needed; we keep the comments open to spur debate.

      But why does everyone presume Cobb’s got the hardest role? He’s the grunt. He’s the guy who goes in the door first. Does a PFC draw a higher salary than a sergeant? Sure, Cobb’s got lots of experience because he used to be an architect. That probably makes him a really good extractor. But he’s still the one knocking down doors and kicking in teeth. He’s the shooter, not the planner.

      In any case, presume I’m wrong! You can triple the team’s salary and it doesn’t detract from the point I made on the last page: that Saito’s making a killing. (There are 3 more pages to the article, right guys? Did they all load?)

       
      • Alexandra #

        No, no, no. Cobb has two major roles: he kicks in the doors, but he also plans the grand strategy. He’s like, the General. Arthur just figures out the details. Arthur’s his sidekick.

        There’s nothing to bicker about on the last three pages. :)

         
  4. John Perich #

    he kicks in the doors, but he also plans the grand strategy.

    … because he used to be the architect. But Ariadne’s still learning the ropes, so she can’t take that role on yet.

    Note that once the team’s actually in play, infiltrating Fischer’s dream, people defer to him based on his judgment, not based on his authority. Once the train ambushes them on the first level, he and Arthur are screaming at each other. In the second level, he doesn’t simply direct the team to execute the “Mr. Charles” gambit – he has to convince them.

     
  5. Justin #

    I can’t comment on the content of the episode because I’m only about 10 minutes in, but I did want to comment on how good the audio quality was. Did you do something different this time? This episode sounded much better than usual.

     
  6. Chris #

    Out of curiosity, does Saito plan on keeping the airline operational post-Inception? If so, there is a real possibility, even with the financial issues facing many an airline, that he makes some of his money back on that investment. At the very least, it isn’t an inherent sunk cost. That makes Saito’s investment seem even more reasonable.

    Also, I have to agree that the fact the job is illegal/dangerous certainly does not mean they are going to make more money. Many dangerous jobs are also exceedingly low paying, as anybody who has worked in a mine or on an oil derrick could tell you. Additionally, most people in the drug trade, to pick one illegal enterprise, don’t make much money at all. The much more apt argument for why the assigned salaries seem a tad low would be the rarefied nature of the position. Those, as previously stated, that’s not really the crux of this article.

     
  7. Travis #

    The film also references “shares.” It’s revealed that Cobb gave up all of his “share.” The way that conversation goes, coupled with my conventional Hollywood heist thinking, I imagine the pay is split equally. So the questions becomes more about how much you charge for any particular job overall rather then individual salaries.

    Yes, we’re picking at things that don’t change the overall point of the article. But you run a blog that breaks down the meaning behind the font on Meat Loaf album covers. It’s kinda the point of the blog.

     
    • John Perich #

      True – I would never deny someone’s right to question my math or my sources. Once we start underthinking my overthinking, what next? PANDEMONIUM!

       
  8. Justin #

    Crap. Forget my previous comment, I thought I was on the podcast page. Also, I’d like to retract that previous statement. Maybe I was just crazy for the first 10 minutes lol

     
  9. M. Witty #

    Great post.

    Though I’ll agree with those saying you’re being a little unkind in your estimate of Cobb’s salary, but for a different reason: Cobb’s the rainmaker of the crew, giving him the highest salary grade regardless. The Roger Sterling, if you will.

     
  10. hanncommander #

    What Chris said.

    If he owns an airline, and he owns an energy conglomerate, that’s a sweet deal. He determines his fuel costs.

     
  11. Eli #

    I didn’t really read through all of the comments, so I’m sorry if I’m echoing someone else here, but I don’t think it’s ever mentioned in the film that Cobb and his team are the best at what they do.

    In fact, aside from Ariadne and Yusuf, no one in the film is ever even implied to be better at what they do then the competition. I think a lot of people are assuming that because these are the main characters.

    In fact, Cobb is arguably one of the worst extractors due to the massive handicap that Mal presents him and his team with. He also hides crucial information from his team, and risks all of their sanities for the sake of going home.

    Additionally, Arthur is a very capable Point Man, but he is constantly used as a source of humor for his lack of imagination (in fact, his use of imagination in an environment without gravity is something of a personal climax for Arthur, but I digress), and he is also upstaged by Eames multiple times. Would I describe him as the best? No. Oh, and also, Mal is familiar with his taste in decor (eastern?) which is another handicap. The team would be better if Cobb and Arthur weren’t working together.

    Also, Eames seems to be a terrific method actor, and a better Point Man than Arthur to boot, but he fails at being a detective. His failure, was not realizing that Fischer had training in resisting extraction. In fact, that failure nearly cost Saito his sanity, and did cause him to spend what looked to be about 40-50 years in Limbo. If I’d been Saito, I probably would have withheld a significant portion of Eames’ pay for that oversight.

    So if this team is spear headed by people who are not the best (as I assert) what is Saito’s interest in Cobb? Why does he fly from Japan, (presumably) to France, and then Kenya following Cobb?

    Well, the primary one is that he has leverage over Cobb, so he knows Cobb will work harder. Nolan makes great use of dead love interests (or “fridge-stuffing”) in his films, but he is also developing a tendency to use kids as motivators. Admittedly, Saito is not Harvey Dent, and Cobb is not Jim Gordon, but the fact that Saito can let Cobb see his kids again is a pretty good motivator.

    Also, I can’t imagine its easy to find an extractor. Extractors can’t exactly advertise, and letting contact information be widely available is pretty hazardous if you botch a job (see: Cobol). Once Saito found an extractor (particularly one familiar with inception, but I’m getting to that), he kept following Cobb in an attempt to convince him because Cobb was the first extractor he could find (who knows how long he was looking for?). It’s a week explanation, but this is long enough without my feeble attempts to strengthen it.

    Saito may also have been extra interested in employing Cobb due to the fact that Cobb had more than a passing familiarity with Inception in theory and practice. In fact, perhaps Saito had found extractors previously but none were willing to attempt inception, and Saito had no leverage.

    The final reason for his interest was Cobb’s use of dreams within dreams, which apparently is uncommon and perhaps unique. Yet it was also stated that the stability of dreams decreased the deeper you went down. Of course, later Yusuf’s nifty Plot-Device Brand&trade Sedative could circumvent that problem by assuring stability throughout all levels, but we all know where that took the team.

    So while Cobb and his team certainly employ some unorthodox methods in extraction and inception, it would be hard to make a case for them being the best at their jobs, and not too hard to make a case for why Saito employs Cobb anyways. In fact, their unorthodox methods present new risks that endanger the entirety of the heist and may expose the team to failure and being caught.

    Of course, if these guys were the best at what they did, there would have been no problems with the inception and…well it still would have made at least a decent movie anyways, now that I think about it.

     
    • Jon Eric #

      REALLY good points, except for one:

      Of course, if these guys were the best at what they did, there would have been no problems with the inception.

      I’m still not so sure about this. I mean, at the beginning of the movie, there was quite a bit of waffling about whether inception was even possible. It had never been done before, so there’s no reason to believe that even a much better team could have pulled it off without complications.

      Still, really excellent overthinking.

       
    • Tao #

      Arthur is definitely referred to as “the best”, actually by the very same person and in the very same sentence as he is ridiculed for lacking imagination – which only happens once, and is, as you said, shown to be incorrect later in the movie.

      Cobb calls himself the best when trying to extract Saito, but of course he isn’t being entirely truthful in this scene. Still, if Cobb is the only one who ever committed Inception and who successfully experiments with dreams within dreams, that makes him rather superior to the rest anyway, doesn’t it? Especially if that’s what you are looking for. If others are better, why don’t they just do it, and better than Cobb while they’re at it?

      Eames doesn’t even have to be questioned, as he succeeds at everything he attempt quite smoothly, while of course displaying the seemingly very special talent of forging.

      The movie heavily implies that we are dealing with the best of the best.

       
  12. frug #

    Loved this article but I have three qualms with it:

    1. You assume that Saito can simply pay them team members the same as what they would earn in an equivalent legitimate field. In reality Saito would have to pay them more since taking part in inception caries considerably more risk than there other job. (Why risk getting arrested, killed or spending the rest of your life as a vegetable when you can make the same money getting giving acting lessons?)

    2. Saito could have cleared Fisher’s record for considerably less than $24 million and much less risk than buying off high profile officials like AGs and members of Congress. He could throw a few thousand dollars at somebody in the police property clerks office to lose the physical evidence against Fisher (or just burn down the office), have a hacker erase the police’s digital files relating to Fisher and pay a janitor to grab the hard copies out of the file cabinets after hours. Repeat the process of the FBI and then it’s just a matter of paying off a mid-level bureaucrat in the State Department to take Fisher’s name off the watch list. Not only is it cheaper, this approach is less likely to attract detection (I don’t care how good your money launderers are, somebody is going to notice a $20 million donation to an AG’s election fund).

    3. You include the purchase of the airline in your calculation. This is problematic for two reasons. First, it assumes that airline purchase was A) required and B) a sunk cost. The truth is Saito didn’t have to buy the whole airline, he just needed the seats in the first class section and a flight attendant. He did so more to show that he could and feed his ego than more the job easier. (Hell it probably made things more complicated by attracting unnecessary attention). Moreover, even if the inception had failed he still could have turned a profit on the airline. It wouldn’t have been as profitable as keeping the money in energy but he would probably at least break even on the investment.
    The second issue of course is the massive cost of buying the airline. Once Saito decided to spend almost $1.4 billion buying what amounted to a luxury it didn’t matter how much he spent on the other parts of the mission. The difference between $1 million in bribes and $25 million doesn’t really matter when you’ve already spent $1.39 billion.

    Again good article and sorry for the long (and likely typo filled) post.

     
  13. Ezra #

    I second frug’s #2 comment–I don’t think Mr. Perich’s reasoning regarding bribing DAs and Congressmen is correct. In the film, after the mission is completed and they’re all waking up on the plane, Saito makes the call to get Cobb off the hook when the flight attendent is passing around the customs forms, i.e., no more than 30 minutes before landing. That’s not really enough time to bribe multiple DAs and Congressmen. I suppose it’s possible that he had previously bribed those people, but told them the bribe was withdrawn if they didn’t hear from him on the day of the job, but even if he had, it would mean that those people would have had to spring into action immediately upon receiving Saito’s call, and worked fast enough that Cobb’s passport didn’t register as that of a wanted fugitive when they swiped it at customs. I think it’s more likely Saito erased Cobb’s record clandestinely, perhaps by employing computer criminals.

     
    • John Perich #

      Saito makes the call to get Cobb off the hook when the flight attendent is passing around the customs forms, i.e., no more than 30 minutes before landing.

      True. As I mention in the article, it’s likely that Saito has either a secret held over someone’s head or a favor to call in. But if that secret/favor can get an AG and a Senate committee to jump, it has to be worth at least $24 million.

       
      • frug #

        But if that secret/favor can get an AG and a Senate committee to jump, it has to be worth at least $24 million.

        But the point that Ezra and I are making is that Saito didn’t have to target an AG or congressional chairperson. By using computer hackers and mid-level bureaucrats Saito could have achieved the same result for considerably less cost than by bribing/extorting high profile elected officials and as I noted, it would have attracted considerably less attention.
        (Of course as I said, once Saito decided to buy the airline it didn’t really matter how much he spent on the rest of the mission.)

         
  14. Kim K. #

    Very nice Perich, thoughtful and unique!

     
  15. Matthew Belinkie #

    @Perich – This is some beautiful overthinking.

     
  16. Brad Hanon #

    I’d add one point to the interesting comments on this article, which I enjoyed a lot. As I recall, Saito states that if Fischer doesn’t break up, it will achieve a complete monopoly over the global energy industry. At that point, how much money Saito stands to make becomes largely irrelevant; if he doesn’t do this, he stands to lose everything he’s got, and live in a world where one sharp-cheekboned dude has become de facto ruler of the world economy.

    Interestingly, you’d think that world governments would play some role in preventing a global energy monopoly, but I think Nolan knows that none of us believe that any more. We now live in a world where it is taken for granted that there is nothing a government will ever do to inconvenience a large corporation.

    Dammit, I made myself sad.

     
  17. Mike #

    The math here is a little off because you don’t really compute in the chance of the inception failing. So he spends $1.4B, and if he invested it normally, he could make back $7.7B. If the inception succeeds, he makes $24B. That sounds great, but what are the odds of success? If they’re lower than 7.7/24 = ~32%, not so great. And this is inception, which as far as we know no one has ever done before. Normal dream-invading is probably a long shot, right? Inception can’t seem like a better than 10% shot and probably more like 1% or lower. In which case, Saito doesn’t look like such a genius.

    On the other hand, as others have pointed out, the cost of the airline shouldn’t really be part of this (that was a vanity move, wasn’t it?), and Saito essentially feels he has no choice but to gamble on the long shot, because if he does nothing, his company gets crushed.

     
    • John Perich #

      The math here is a little off because you don’t really compute in the chance of the inception failing. So he spends $1.4B, and if he invested it normally, he could make back $7.7B. If the inception succeeds, he makes $24B. That sounds great, but what are the odds of success? If they’re lower than 7.7/24 = ~32%, not so great.

      Damn – this is a good point.

       
  18. Akuma #

    This job had to have been a $1Million/per above the average market rates, drug importers/bootleggers seem to know the going rates for narcotics in any give location and the team knew Fischer was a loaded tycoon as well.– why not extractors?

    +$1Million – SOMNOS is still considered top secret military technology, its potential impact may make it a part of nuclear proliferation treaties, trade embargoes, and Geneva Convention. The mere existence of this team may render the risk of espionage and treason, on top of the occupational hazards.

    +$1Million – Saito needs a crack team to perform a one-off hit while Fischer is in his most conflicted and emotional state, the immediate death of his father who seems to be his only parent. Being at odds with his godfather adds to Fischers stress levels and hormonal changes which made his professionally trained defensive projections that much more potent and unpredictable.

    +$1Million – Saito may have hired the team through COBOL as a shell corporation in order to gauge their skill and talent. Saito may also have Japanese corporate/military experience with a similar SOMNOS system, Cobb’s reputation precedes him as a skilled Assassin who mysteriously caught the “shakes”. When Saito decoded the texture of his cashmere rug, he knew the Architect (Nash) wasn’t right for the job but the Cobb’s clairvoyant audacity made him an attractive inceptor nonetheless.

    +$1Million – Saito cannot hire a Japanese extraction team at a discount, nor any other ethnicity because he needs a team of average white men to extract Fischer — hence Cobb had a market advantage built in.

    +$1Million – Cobb was to remain under SOMNOS sedatives from the time he laid down in Yusuf’s naptime basement.

    The skill required for this job is and analogy towards a top flight brain surgery: neurosurgeon (Cobb), nurse (Arthur) anesthesiologist (Yusuf), surgical technician (Ariadne, but the Inception method is experimental procedure designed by Cobb and Professor), behavioral psychiatrist (Eames) and post-op therapist (Saito). Due to the stock market implications of a successful job, the budget for this inception team is actually akin to that of a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Ocean’s 11 trilogy had and average production budget of $100 million. Given Cobb’s emotional instabilities, this job was considered a swan song, which is exactly why Saito bribed Arthur, Eames and Yusuf to render Cobb comatose in limbo for the duration of reality.

    P.S. How this for a sequel?
    Cobb exist in his dream world which is his own personal nightmare, because his kids never age, so he is caught in a constant loop of single-parent child-rearing in the absence of Mal.
    Ariadne’s concern for his comatose state becomes complicated when Saito, Fischer, or his father in law and her mentor is mysteriously murdered (Saito? BP? Enron?). Ariadne has to enter Cobb’s limbo state to convince him to return to consciousness, escape the pursuers in reality, and save the rest of the team who “retired” him for his own safety. How will he accomplish this? Enter the new innovation — Inception using an encrypted internet connections! They require the services of a skilled Navigator (MRI/Radiologist) to lead them through the network portals and Courier (HMO Liaison) to successfully defend their flanks while Cobb gets reacquainted with his extraction skills in time.

     
  19. Foamy #

    “The top 10 oil and gas companies… have an average ROAA of 5.45. This means for every $100… it can expect to make $545 in return.”

    Wait, what? No, that’s not what it means at all.

    ROA(A) is calculated by taking the net income for one year and dividing it by the average of the total assets over that year (as opposed to the total assets at the time they filed the annual report). It says nothing of the return on an individual asset or project, just how the organization handles a continuous flow of assets.

    It’s also represented in percent; ExxonMobil’s annual ROAA is 18.5%, so any year that they have $100 in assets under management they can expect $18.50 in net income. 5.45 would be even lower.

     
    • John Perich #

      I’m less shocked that I got this wrong than that it took this long for someone to point it out.

       
  20. Kristine #

    I’d argue that Eames’ job is closer to that of an actual psychologist than a drama coach. Eames has to get to know the mark’s mind in such a way that he can successfully trick the mark into believing his impersonation. Shrinks naturally have to be able to empathize. One HAS to be able to garner the client’s trust and use that trust to help that person. If a Forger can’t get the mark to believe he’s Uncle Joey (or whoever), the inception/extraction will be very short lived.

    Additionally, The Forger has to pick up on and reenact certain unique qualities connected to the target of his impersonation. One cannot simply bumble into a mark’s mind and say, “Hey, pretend I’m Uncle Joey, even though my mannerisms and speech are even remotely related to how you remember Uncle Joey’s.” Part of a shrink’s training is to learn to read body language and pick up on subtle cues.

    In short, knowing the inner workings of someone’s mind makes it infinitely easier to manipulate them. Plus, when it comes to communication, shrinks have to be top-notch – therapy would be more detrimental than helpful otherwise.

     
    • Tao #

      What Eames actually is, is a very good spy. Neither shrink nor drama teachers are that well trained in combat, are they? They are all spies and would be paid like spies. I don’t know why one would pretend they have anything in common with civilian jobs, as if espionage was such a fantastical concept that we can’t possibly imagine in the real world.

       
  21. Brandon #

    Why would Saito pay their salaries? He doesn’t have them on retainer for a year. This is a one-time job. So I can’t imagine that the earliest basis for this admittedly interesting and well thought out article is remotely correct.

     
  22. paul #

    Just one thing regarding what the team earns. Assuming all the calculations in the article are correct, he did have to bribe x, y and z to get the record removed, did have to buy the airline etc. The cost of the bribes are payment, so the “team(Cobb)” actually earns the 350k + 21m. The biggest inception pulled off is actually that Cobb got the team to work for a paltry sum, while he got 21m VALUE. So Cobb is actually the highest paid of the team, alpha dog status reclaimed, action heroes can breathe a sigh of relief.

     
  23. frug #

    Just stumbled back on this article after reading Belinkie’s and I decided to give my own estimates on the cost. Based on the criteria I used in my previous post I assume:

    -About $700,000 in personal costs. (I just doubled your salary assumptions to be on the safe side.

    -About $60,000 to clear Cobb’s record. (I just assumed $10,000 per person bribed and that is likely on the high side of what he needed to pay)

    -The movie didn’t specify the exact make of 747 used in the film but based on some quick research it looks like the average is about 28 first class seats per plane at a cost of about $3500 per seat for a one way flight. That works out to about $98,000. Throw in another $10,000 to sabotage Fisher’s private jet and ensure he ends up on the flight we want him on and get the flight attendant we want plus the $10,000 we are going to pay her and you are looking at $123,000 for the flight.

    Finally I’ll add on another %15 for transportation, materials and other costs not included in this analysis and I am going to peg the cost of this Inception at $1,015,450 or about $1.3 billion less than what was estimated here. True I probably posted this too late to get any feedback, but this sounds like a much more accurate number to me.