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Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission: Impossible 6’ Tops Box Office With Record $62M Weekend
Tom Cruise set a personal best of sorts this weekend, as Mission: Impossible – Fallout opened with $61.5 million. That’s, sans inflation, his second-biggest opening weekend ever (behind the $64m Fri-Sun launch of War of the Worlds) and the biggest opening for a Mission: Impossible movie (ahead of the $58m Fri-Sun launch of Mission: Impossible II). Also, random trivia, this was Cruise’s biggest debut for a film that had a straight-up Fri-Sun debut as opposed to a long holiday weekend opening. The film earned an A from Cinemascore and snagged an okay 2.6x weekend multiplier. Come what may, it played like a Mission: Impossible sequel.
While we can debate to what extent Cruise is still a “butts in the seats” movie star, he is absolutely worth the money when it comes to these Ethan Hunt vehicles. While the franchise may have begun as a “Hey, watch Tom Cruise cosplay an action hero in a movie loosely based on that spy show with the cool masks and the cooler theme song,” it morphed into a kind of old-fashioned star-driven franchise in an era of IP cash-ins. Like (relatively speaking) Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer, it’s less about the IP and more about a major movie star playing to their most popular onscreen persona.
The appeal of the franchise, inflation and challenges faced in getting folks to the theaters in this Netflix-and-chill era notwithstanding, has only grown in the last half-decade. It has morphed into a kind of a throwback with practical effects, real locations and gonzo “believe your eyes” stunt work. Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol was a soft reboot (with a more explicit continuity and an emphasis on crazy stunts over melodrama) that became Cruise’s biggest global grosser ever ($694 million, sans inflation or overseas expansion). Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation earned almost as much ($683m) In July of 2015 while winning equally rave reviews.
Fallout isn’t just a sixth Mission: Impossible movie, it’s a direct sequel to the last three films (starting with J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III). With McQuarrie becoming the first director to make two of these flicks (Brian DePalma started it in 1996, and John Woo directed Mission: Impossible II in 2000), Fallout also brings back fan favorite Rebecca Ferguson and offers Henry Cavill and Vanessa Kirby as (relatively speaking) foils. Couple that with what is easily the best trailer for any movie this year, and there was a hope that this film would turbo-charge the franchise as a kind of Skyfall/Fast and Furious breakout smash beyond the franchise’s current boundaries.
That didn’t happen. Even with rave reviews, fan goodwill and buzzy “added value elements,” the film sold slightly fewer tickets than Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation ($55.5 million in 2015/$62m adjusted) and less tickets than Mission: Impossible III ($47m in 2006/$67m adjusted). Still, the last two sequels were a lot leggier than the first three M:I movies. After two supercharged opening weekends (Mission: Impossible earned $46m in 1996 and M:I 2 earned $57m in 2000, both as part of Wed-Sun Memorial Day weekends, both of which are near $100m adjusted for inflation), the franchise fell into a different pattern. The openings (regarding tickets sold) got smaller, but the legs got longer.