“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” topped the domestic box office charts, but fell short of initial expectations. Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster grossed $56.2 million between Friday and Sunday, a lackluster start for a movie that cost nearly $300 million before it hit the market.
Heading into the weekend, the Paramount and Skydance action adventure hoped to set a new franchise record with $60 million or more. Instead, ticket sales fell behind 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” ($61 million) and 2000’s “Mission: Impossible II” ($57.8 million), which remain the best openings in the 27-year run.
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Comparisons are not exact because “Dead Reckoning Part One” started on Wednesday instead of Friday. The seventh installment grossed an estimated $80 million in its first five days of release, more than “Fallout” ($77.5 million) and “Mission: Impossible II” ($78.8 million) made in their first five days in the cinema. However, with a stellar 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and a glowing “A” CinemaScore, “Dead Reckoning” will likely remain a force at the box office all summer long.
But right now, it’s pulling in similar numbers to Disney’s $300 million budgeted “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which debuted to $60 million over its traditional weekend and pulled in $84 million over the Fourth of July five-day holiday period. “Indiana Jones 5”, which doesn’t have the benefit of great reviews or very positive audience ratings, has shown no staying power; ticket sales stand at $136 million domestically and $302 million worldwide.
To avoid a similar fate, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” needs to be as long and unwieldy as the movie’s title. The movie, which features Cruise’s Teflon agent Ethan Hunt defying death as he flies off a mountain on his motorcycle, climbs a runaway train and maneuvers a small car through Rome’s busy streets, was incredibly expensive due to COVID-related takeoffs and stops and other pandemic-era safety measures. So there’s a chance next summer’s sequel, “Dead Reckoning Part Two,” also directed and co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, will be cheaper.
Repeat purchases, as well as worldwide checkout returns, will be key in saving Cruise’s latest mission. The seventh “Mission: Impossible” is already showing strength at the international box office with $155 million, even with its weak $25.4 million debut in China. That brings the global number to a respectable $235 million, the biggest global start for the franchise.
“This [domestic] opening is about average for an action thriller at this point in the series,” said David A. Gross, who heads the film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The foreign markets are where action films excel and the overseas openings are strong.”
“Mission: Impossible” movies tend to attract an older audience, which isn’t always as strong as opening weekends. With good word of mouth, ticket buyers could continue to find the movie, as was the case with Cruise’s enduring hit “Top Gun: Maverick,” which grossed $1.4 billion last summer.
In the past, “Mission” episodes have shown remarkable longevity at the box office, even with smaller opening weekends. “Fallout”, for example, collected $61 million to begin with and eventually set a series record with $791 million worldwide. In addition, ‘Mission’ movies earn about 70% of total ticket sales at the international box office. That should help offset any shortcomings in North America.
That’s good news, because Ethan Hunt is gearing up to face the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon. This weekend, the latest “Mission” will compete for attention against Christopher Nolan’s dark historical drama “Oppenheimer” and Greta Gerwig’s bright pink romp “Barbie,” both of which premiere on July 21. The unlikely showdown between the two very different films has become an online craze, one that has spilled into the real world with tens of thousands of moviegoers booking double-features of “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.”
“‘MI7’ could also benefit by being at the epicenter of that blockbuster as a hugely attractive alternative to the other two movies,” said senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “‘Cruisenheimer’ anyone?”
Elsewhere, the unlikely box office hit “Sound of Freedom” climbed to second place in its second run with $25 million from 3,265 theaters, up 25% from last weekend. The faith-based film about the child sex trade has grossed a remarkable $83 million after two weeks of release. It’s a reminder in the power of religious audiences, who have stepped in and want to push the low-budget movie beyond $100 million.
Sony’s horror sequel “Insidious: The Red Door,” which topped the box office last weekend, dropped to No. 3 with $13 million from 3,188 locations. So far, the movie has collected a strong $58 million on its $16 million budget.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” took fourth place in its third weekend of release, grossing $12 million from 3,865 locations. To date, the Harrison Ford-led tentpole has grossed $145 million in North America and $302 million worldwide.
Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” rounded out the top five, generating $8.7 million from 3,235 cinemas in its fifth weekend on the big screen. The $200 million animated family film has managed to hang on with grossing $125.3 million domestically and $311.7 million worldwide. But, like “Indy 5,” its huge production budget means it has ways of really climbing out of the red during its theatrical run.
Searchlight’s “Theater Camp” mockumentary was released in limited edition for $270,000 in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles — averaging a healthy $45,000 per venue. The film, which stars Ben Platt and Molly Gordon as wacky drama instructors trying to keep their beloved summer camp going, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews. Next weekend, “Theater Camp” will continue its slow expansion to Austin, Chicago, Boston, Denver, and San Francisco, among others.
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