Director Christopher Nolan

Producers Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan

Production companies Warner Bros, Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures

Worldwide distributor Warner Bros

US release date July 16, 2010

While his previous movie puzzles Memento and The Prestige had drawn audiences into a tricksy interplay between reality and illusion, Christopher Nolan had long been intent on exploring the theme through his own original idea.

The result was the spectacular summer smash Inception, which grossed $825m worldwide, making it the third biggest release of the year and the biggest non-3D release.

Nolan began working on a script 10 years ago, discussing his ideas with Warner Bros executive Lorenzo di Bonaventura. After he had completed The Dark Knight in 2008, he sat down and worked on the script in earnest.

Inception producer (and Nolan’s wife) Emma Thomas recalls the film’s development process. “He’d pull the script out of his drawer every now and then but it wasn’t until after The Dark Knight that he really felt like he wanted to do something,” says Thomas. “We took it to Jeff Robinov at Warner Bros, who were looking for a major movie for summer 2010, and they really responded to it.”

Logistically a film about an elite investigative squad who invade people’s dreams was always going to be difficult to realise. In order to ensure the utmost realism and a dreamlike scope, Nolan was eager to avoid the green-screen wherever possible. The result was a six-month shoot across six countries.

Another major challenge facing the thriller came from marketing the complicated idea. “Generally, big summer movies are based on existing properties, for which people have a frame of reference,” says Thomas. “When we started, a lot of people thought Chris was making anotherPrestigeso the marketing team had to work really hard to get the concept and scope across.”

Inception scored nine Bafta nominations and four Golden Globes nods. Although it did not win any Globes, it has strong awards claims across the board with an illustrious cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio, a memorable score from Hans Zimmer, acrobatic camerawork from Nolan regular Wally Pfister, impressive effects from Chris Corbould and inventive design from Guy Hendrix Dyas.