Box Office Report: Cruise’s Heroic Ethan Hunt Tops Box Office For Fifth Time

Nearly 20 years since director Brian Depalma’s update of the Mission: Impossible TV series set records as one of the biggest opening of all time, star Tom Cruise and the venerable franchise continued to flex its muscles this weekend at the North American box office.

The Paramount Pictures/Skydance co-production overcame early negative press reports (the production was apparently shut down at one point to figure out the ending) and somewhat soft pre-release tracking, as it managed to ride a wave of positive reviews and terrific word of mouth to a strong 55.5 million dollar debut.

Comparisons with previous installments in the series are somewhat hard to make.  The original film opened over a Wednesday before Memorial day weekend in 1996. Its 45 million dollar first weekend would be nearly twice that today in adjusted ticket prices, not accounting for the 18 million it had already clocked in during its prior two days of release. And the 180-plus million dollar final domestic gross would translate to over 330 million today.  

Four years later, director John Woo took over helming reigns, and the sequel was even bigger. Grossing 78 million in it’s opening frame (and a franchise best 57 million in it’s Fri-Sun period), M:i-2 went on to be the biggest hit of summer 2000 with a final domestic tally of over 215 million.  For those keeping score, that’s also way over 300 million in adjusted dollars today. But unlike the music or TV or publishing side of the entertainment business, movie studios have never really cared about tabulating actual attendance (i.e tickets sold) as they do simply counting grosses.

The low point of the Mission Impossible franchise commercially (but arguably it’s peak creatively at the time) came in 2006. Taking quite a bit longer to get to screens than originally planned, directors such as David Fincher flirted with tackling the threequel. Ultimately, screenwriter and TV showrunner JJ Abrams made his directorial debut with the picture.  

While it received the best reviews of the series thus far, there seemed to be a bit of backlash towards Cruise after an incident with a couch.  Opening to a disappointing 47 million at the time (which coincidentally, with inflation, it’s adjusted 60 million dollar debut would be more than today’s “over-performing” Rogue Nation numbers), the movie topped out with only 134 million at the U.S. box office.

Still, happy with the final product and the franchises continually strong foreign grosses, Paramount and Cruise eventually reunited for a fourth entry in 2011. Retaining JJ Abrams as a hands-on creative producer, the Brad Bird directed Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol was as much a sequel as it was a reboot. With an unusual holiday release strategy that included debuting in IMAX theaters first, the franchise roared back to nearly 210 million domestic. But even more impressive were it’s global numbers, ending up with nearly 500 million from overseas territories alone.

Teaming with his Jack Reacher writer-director, Christopher McQuarrie, Cruise and fellow producer JJ Abrams began to immediately mount a fifth installment of the the now more continuity-centric franchise for Paramount. With Simon Pegg returning for a third time since Abrams first brought him into the fold, as well as a second appearance by Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames (who only a brief cameo in the last pic due to a salary dispute) came back for a fourth bout.

And while it’s debut may be less impressive compared to previous installments when adjusting for inflation, Rogue Nation opened better than other “blockbusters” this summer such as Mad Max Fury Road, San Andreas, and Ant-Man (all of which also had the advantage of a sizeable portion of tickets sold being higher-priced 3D admissions). With an A- cinemascore, Paramount can most likely look forward to a strong multiple.  Meanwhile, the movie is already cleaning up overseas.  And Cruise has confirmed that a sixth installment may be coming together faster than any entry in the series has thus far.

Coming in at number two this weekend was another fifth installment; Warner Bros/New Line’s latest entry in the Vacation franchise. Premiering somewhat below pre-release tracking with a mild 14.8 million (21 million since Wednesday), the film was not a hit with critics either. A just okay B cinemascore doesn’t bode great for the weeks ahead, but the budget on this movie wasn’t exactly huge. Warners will look to enjoy a healthy ancillary life as nostalgic, older, audiences will be perhaps more willing to stream at home.

After two weekends at number one, Marvel’s Ant-Man fell below the new openers this frame. Good enough for a third place finish with 12.8 million, the tiny hero has managed a respectable 132 million and counting. Look for a final cume somewhere in the vicinity of 155-160 million.

At number four, Minions continued it’s trek to 300 million this weekend.  The Despicable Me spin-off pulled in another 12 million, bringing it’s total 287 million.  The animated feature looks to top out with around 315-320 million.  Not as big as Despicable Me 2’s 368 million final tally, but bigger than the original Despicable Me.  Universal already has a third Despicable Me scheduled for 2017; a Minions sequel can’t be far behind.

Rounding out the top five, was Adam Sandler with Pixels.  Falling three places from it’s muted debut last weekend, the big-budget wannabe blockbuster has not managed to help Sandler’s current theatrical slump. A 56 percent drop equaled only 10.4 million, and a likely final in the weeks ahead of less than 70 million at the domestic box office. More costly than most other Sandler endeavors, Sony will be relying heavily on overseas grosses to get them out of the red.

At number six this weekend, Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck continued to chug along. Adding another 9.7 million, the Amy Schumer starrer should end it’s run with over a 100 million at the U.S. box office.

Last weekend’s Southpaw suffered a steeper than expected drop.  The boxing drama that has earned mixed reviews, but raves for star Jake Gyllenhaal, was off 55 percent to 7.5 million. Down two places to seven, the movie has made a somewhat respectable 31.5 million. The Weinstein Co will hope for some stabilization in the weeks ahead to at least get the film to 50 million.

Also dropping two places from sixth to eighth, was Paper Towns.  After a disappointing opening last weekend, the YA adaptation suffered the worst drop in the top ten. With only 23.8 million thus, it may struggle to hit 30 million at the domestic box office. It’s a far cry from Fox’s adaptation of John Green’s other novel, Fault in the Stars, which topped out with nearly 125 million last summer.

At number nine, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out earned another 4.5 million this weekend.  At nearly 330 million, it could end up with 345 million or more when all is said and done.

Finally, Jurassic World spent what should be it’s last week in the top ten. Another 3.8 million brought it’s current total to 631.5 million.  A final cume north of 640 million should be the next benchmark for the third highest grossing movie of all time.

Meanwhile, check out Cruise below in this cool mashup!

(Mystery Box Office Guy)


Heroic Staff

Heroic Staff

Heroic Special Activities Division Agent Trainee Program