What made ''Inside Man'' open at No. 1? -- Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster pushed the Spike Lee thriller to the top spot

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.