Can Tom Cruise save summer?
Despite the onslaught of shiny product that hasn’t delivered, i.e. Flash and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the summer domestic box office at $2.1 billion per Comscore is pacing 6% behind last year’s for the period of May 1 to July 9.
All eyes are on the best reviewed Mission: Impossible of all-time, Paramount/Skydance’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One to hopefully get us on a July roll starting Wednesday with an expected franchise global 5-day record of $250M; made up of $90M domestic, and $160M abroad in 70 markets including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
There is a great potential for upside here, not just because of the Rotten Tomatoes score of 98% certified fresh, but also because a Top Gun: Maverick halo effect is expected to work in the favor of the seventh Mission: Impossible. Yes, Mission: Impossible skews largely toward older guys, the last chapter Fallout counting 58% guys and 25% over of the audience over 45. However, Top Gun: Maverick wound up playing beyond its opening weekend demos of 45% over 45, and 58% to a diverse and younger audience. Word is that during testing of Dead Reckoning, for some under 25 patrons, it was the first time they’d ever seen a Mission movie, the series now 27 years old.
Dead Reckoning is Cruise’s fourth movie with Oscar-winning filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie, and the star’s third Mission with the director after 2015’s Rogue Nation and 2018’s Fallout.
Previews stateside begin at 2PM Tuesday night with 4,300 locations by Wednesday. Many cinemas hold discount Tuesdays, but remember, there’s an upcharge for Imax and PLFs, the prime means to see this mega car and train chase spectacle. Already, we’re hearing that presales for Dead Reckoning are well ahead of the older skewing Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny at the same point in time. Reported budget on this Mission is a net $291M, the pic challenged by Covid starts and stops in Italy.
A worldwide start here well in excess of $250M could have Cruise once again declaring a record B.O. opening for his career; Top Gun: Maverick posting $256.4M (3 day of $126.7M domestic, $129.7M abroad).
With most notable overseas markets opening pics on a Wednesday, a simultaneous U.S. start here on Dead Reckoning screams global day and date for the Hollywood star who brought hesitant audiences back to cinemas after Covid, coast to coast with Top Gun: Maverick last summer. Top Gun 2 was the highest grossing film stateside last year with $718.3M, and ultimately second worldwide after Avatar: The Way of Water with $1.49 billion.
But a Wednesday start also gives what is the longest Mission at 2 hours and 43 minutes the glory of a five-day box office record; the challenge for exhibition is fewer showtimes during the day.
Still, even if Dead Reckoning comes up short on its projection, the expectation is that it will leg out as Cruise’s movies are backloaded, not frontloaded, read Top Gun: Maverick made 82% of its domestic gross after its first weekend with 72% of Mission: Impossible – Fallout‘s $220M stateside gross minted after its 3-day of $61.2M.
There’s been a couple of Missions that had midweek starts. The first 1996 movie, directed by Brian DePalma, had Tuesday previews of $3.4M before posting a 5-day of $63.5M and 6-day of $74.9M over the Memorial Day weekend stretch.
Mission: Impossible II from John Woo in 2000 also debuted on the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend and minted $78.8M over 5-days, and $91.8M over six.
On Wednesday, Dead Reckoning – Part One officially starts in France. Previews have been afoot in a number of other hubs which join the IMF team in earnest through Friday including the UK, Italy, Australia and cuckoo-for-Cruise Korea. China goes on Friday. Cruise-crazy Japan is going a week later to sidestep this week’s opening of local maestro Hayao Miyazaki’s How Do You Live?.
Offshore comps include Mission: Impossible – Fallout which (excluding previews and in like-for-like markets at today’s rates) opened to $173.1M. Note that this figure includes $74M from China at a very different point in time for that market. Including previews, Fallout bowed to $186.6M (again, with that China figure factoring, and also in a like-for-like situation).
Looking at last year’s Top Gun: Maverick, international markets grossed $103.5M at the start (like-for-likes/excluding previews). With previews, the sequel launched to $129.7M.
On Fallout, the top markets were ultimately China, Korea, Japan, the UK and France.
On Top Gun: Maverick (which did not release in China), the UK, Japan, Korea, Australia and France led play.
China, which was the top overseas market on Fallout, has M:I7 currently leading presales for the weekend, though there is strong local competition. It’s hoped that Dead Reckoning does well, but given the disruption in the market as pertains to Hollywood movies, we’re proceeding cautiously.
Cruise has again been tireless in promoting the movie — and the big-screen experience — offshore where he is masterly about the importance of overseas markets. The Dead Reckoning tour kicked off in Rome with a spectacular world premiere event on the Spanish Steps (they figure heavily in a key chase) with key cast members and McQuarrie as well as editor Eddie Hamilton and co-screenwriter Erik Jendresen. In his inimitable style, Cruise took time to sign autographs and pose for photos with hundreds of fans and members of the media over the course of about four hours.
From there, the team traveled to London for a UK premiere in Leicester Square, followed by a premiere in Abu Dhabi, where some of the movie was filmed, and then took a trip to Korea (a mega-Cruise market) for a press conference and red carpet blowout. In Australia on July 3, Cruise celebrated his 61st birthday during the Oz premiere. The team will next head to Japan.