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.
9 hours ago