Monday, May 08, 2006

The End of Tom Cruise?

Here's the thing about Mission: Impossible 3: It's a pretty good movie. Well paced, good perfs, very taut, totally fun, and, like all good summer action movies, it shows you stuff you've never seen before. I mean come on, a helicopter chase through a wind farm? Paramount put $150M into this thing and every last cent is on the screen. This kind of movie, on a May weekend, does serious business, no matter who you put in it.

So if you cast a movie star and you open it on 4,054 screens, it should be a monster, right?

Well, maybe not. M:I3 opened to $48M over the weekend. Let's put this is some perspective:

As Brandon Gray notes, the first M:I opened to $45.4M 10 years ago ($67M in today's dollars); M:I2 opened to $57.8M ($70M adjusted). Look at the list of best May opening weekends and you see action movies like The Day After Tomorrow and The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing which starred, respectively, Dennis Quaid, Brendan Fraser, and Hugh Jackman.

I would suggest that if you plop just about any mid-level leading man into M:I3--think Josh Lucas or Matt Damon--it opens to about the same number. Place a different movie star in the Ethan Hunt role--maybe Will Smith or Russell Crowe--and it opens near the $68M that it should have grossed.

Which means this: Something has happened to Tom Cruise as a property.

Of course Cruise has been on a well-publicized crazy spree for the last year or so. But up until now it hadn't hurt his box office potential. War of the Worlds and Collateral did well. But this M:I3 thud is something else altogether. It means that Cruise is, at least right now, a liability for a picture.

This sort of reversal doesn't happen that often. Meg Ryan, Ben Affleck, and Jennifer Lopez are the only actors I can think of whose off-screen baggage has affected their commercial viability. There must be more.

It'll be interesting to see whether or not people around the project throw Cruise under the bus. And just wait for Michael Mann's The Few. Mann isn't a super-commercial director, but Cruise and Paula Wagner will have to push all their chips to the center of the table.


Anonymous said...

Why in heaven's name do you think you are a deep-thinking Hollywood inside guy?

Anonymous said...

And you think that JVL thinks he is "a deep-thinking Hollywood inside guy" because???

Anonymous said...

11:15 ana. (a/k/a dipshit)

Because ever since he revamped his blog, he is constantly writing about hollywood and celbrity shit. I understand it is HIS blog and he could do whatever-the-hell he wants and I really don't have to read it; however, I really liked the old galleyslaves blog and I want it to return.

Peter said...

Not entirely convinced it's Cruise. I think it's also largely due to the M:I series losing value. M:I2 was widely disliked -- John Woo fans didn't get enough Woo, and everyone else was confused. The trailers for M:I3 were mediocre at best -- unable to sell a central threat because there was none, unable to advertise a really memorable, standout setpiece because, again, there wasn't one (the helicopter and bridge scenes were superb, but not concepty enough to sell in the 3 seconds you can alot in a TV spot), and unable to really show us characters, b/c characetr development was minimal at best. Did anyone other than movie nerds even know Rhys Meyers was in the movie before going in? The buzz on this as a franchise just wasn't there.

Bill Walsh said...

Plus, the movie itself is kind of a snooze. It's competent and adequately put together, but there's no real plot, just a lot of action sequences strung together. Abrams shoots it like a TV show: way, way, way too many shaky-cam closeups, which are vaguely nauseating on the big screen. And really, not that much cool going on. It's almost pomo in the way that they willfully keep their Macguffin an assertive Macguffin.

On the other hand, Phillip Seymour Hoffman does a very nice turn, acting almost entirely with his voice.

Anonymous said...

The Grudge with Sarah Michelle Gellar did $40 million a couple of years ago it's opening weekend.

A remake of a Japanese Horror series with a TV star did in the neighborhood of a big-budget Tom Cruise movie.

Wow. Yeah when Scary Movie 4 makes fun of Cruise (and all the Placenta-eating, batshit crazy stuff makes him late night comedian fodder) it costs him.

Look at people that generate laughter because people find them a joke: Cruise, Michael Jackson, Affleck, JLO, etc. They certainly don't lack for work, but end up on the Paris Hilton "we laugh at you" level. They don't open movies anymore.

Damian P. said...

Cruise has become a punchline. That can't be denied. But I don't think there was a real demand for a Mission: Impossible sequel anyway, and had almost anyone else been in it, I'm not sure it would have opened as well as it did. (Remember XXX: State of the Union?) It's strange, seeing people talking about a $48M opening like it's the second coming of Town & Country.

Despite all the insane Scientology nonsense, Cruise still has a great track record, and people still assume that if he's in a film, it's a quality project. You certainly can't say that about J. Lo, Affleck or Meg Ryan.