Tom Cruise, Mission Disappointing.--

The opening box office totals for Mission Impossible III, while big, were less than expected:

Paramount Pictures and its leading star, Tom Cruise, failed to live up to expectations this weekend when "Mission: Impossible III" opened to weak numbers at the domestic box office despite a barrage of public appearances by Mr. Cruise to promote the film.

The poor opening followed nearly a year of public mocking of Mr. Cruise, Hollywood's most reliable star and the centerpiece of Paramount's biggest franchise, across the pop culture landscape — by Internet bloggers and late-night comedians and constantly on tabloid covers — after his public, over-the-top wooing of the actress Katie Holmes and his outspoken remarks against psychiatry and antidepressant medications last year.

Opening in 4,054 theaters, "Mission: Impossible III" had estimated ticket sales of $48 million for the weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations, almost $10 million less than the second "Mission: Impossible" movie in 2000, which opened in 385 fewer theaters and at lower ticket prices. Based on market research, the film had been expected to reach about $65 million at the box office.

Many in Hollywood had been watching expectantly to see if the negative publicity surrounding Mr. Cruise would have an effect at the box office, and this weekend — as "Mission: Impossible III" kicked off the film industry's peak summer moviegoing period — it appeared as if it had.

Paramount reported that "Mission: Impossible III" took in $118 million worldwide in 55 countries, doing well in Asia, Latin America and Britain and poorly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where there is public opposition to Mr. Cruise's championing of his religion, Scientology.

Or it may just have been the "South Park" factor.

(click to enlarge)

Anderson (mail) (www):
I overcame my Cruise aversion to see the flick with wife &10-year-old-boy in tow, and it was pretty good. Would've liked to see Hoffman's character with more screen time. Quick pace, lively plot reversals, fun gadgets.

Now that I think about it, I avoided War of the Worlds at least as much for Spielberg's sake as for Cruise's ... the combination is just too revolting.
5.8.2006 1:04pm
Joel B. (mail):
While I don't care much either way about Tom Cruise, I hardly think it makes sense to pin the "disappointing" results on MI:III on him. Sure Scientology is wacky, but I don't care what the actors generally do or say if I think a movie is going to be quite entertaining.

If anything, I think part of the problem is that there aren't a lot of movies that are getting people out to the theatres much at all. I'm a little interested in going to see MI:III, but I haven't gone to a movie in quite a while, just cause nothing's been good for so long, as a result, I'm kind of in a DVD rut, perhaps the summer season will knock me out of that, but I doubt it.
5.8.2006 1:04pm
Houston Lawyer:
We would all be better off if Actors and Actresses would just keep their mouths shut offstage. I generally try to ignore the vapid comments made by the stars, but at some point they destroy the "suspension of disbelief" necessary to enjoy the show. A star generally has to be an egregious offender to fall within this category, but I think that Cruise has managed to cross that line.
5.8.2006 1:16pm
I picked up MI:II on DVD when I first saw it. I hated it to the point of turning it off halfway through to find something more entertaining. I eventually watched the entire show and never found it enjoyable. That is the reason I won't be running to the theater to see MI:III.

Overall, I do think Cruise has damaged his reputation. I do not think South Park can do anymore than recognize that fact.
5.8.2006 1:17pm
If there's no Peter Graves, it just isn't Mission: Impossible.
5.8.2006 1:19pm
Eric Atkinson (mail):
My kid and I went to see a different movie, but due to technicial issues with the projector for that screen we were given our money back and allowed to see any other movie showing. So we saw MI3. I enjoyed the movie, but not as much knowing Tom Cruise didn't make a penny off me.
Down with the clams!
5.8.2006 1:22pm
JohnO (mail):
I think Cruise's publicity probably had a drag on ticket sales. I know I view him much more negatively (mainly for his attacks on psychiatry and antidepressant drugs, but also from reports of him proselytizing), and my perception of him made me less inclined to go see MI:3.

That being said, I'm not surprised that MI:3 did worse at the box office the first weekend than MI:2, but I don't think the entire blame can be placed on Cruise's public weirdness (though I clearly think some of it can).

I thought the first Mission Impossible was a really fun movie, and that got me jazzed up to see the sequel. I thought the sequel was boring and not well done, so if you had asked me 18 months ago (before Cruise's weirdness really came out front and center) I would have been less jazzed to see another sequel. So, I think some of the decline is due to a declining franchise based on the first movie being (in my view) much better than the second.

An interesting test would have been how I would have felt about seeing MI:3 if the second movie had been really good. That would have told me how much of my lack of desire to see MI:3 is based on Cruise's public persona.
5.8.2006 1:22pm
James Lindgren (mail):

I agree.

I somewhat enjoyed MI 1, though it is not my style of movie. MI 2, on the other hand, was soulless.

I was never a big Tom Cruise fan, though I liked Minority Report. Like you, I'm disinclined to see MI 3 because I didn't like MI 2, not because my view of Cruise has changed much.

What Homer Simpson said about rock stars is also true of actors:

"Rock stars. Is there anything they don't know?"
5.8.2006 1:32pm
Ace (mail):
Anyone else notice that the Mission Impossible II movie opened over Memorial Day weekend? Memorial Day, along with the Fourth of July and Labor Day, are huge weekends for box offices. We need to account for the 3 day weekend effect in comparing the opening numbers.
5.8.2006 1:42pm
I like Tom Cruise as an actor, and am not a big fan of him as a person. Usually I can easily separate the two and enjoy his movies. I watch the movies and see him as his character.

Over the past year, he's been so strange and over the top that it takes a bit more effort to see him as his character instead of creepy Scientologist/sofa jumping/Katie Holmes impregnating person.

I liked MI2 a lot. Not sure if MI3 is worth the effort.
5.8.2006 1:43pm
Cornellian (mail):
Probably should have had more screen time for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, at least that's what the critics are saying.

I too, thought Minority Report was a good movie. OK Tom Cruise has a weird personal life, but why should I care about that?
5.8.2006 2:02pm
Ole Blue (mail) (www):
I think that people are just tired of the same movie.

Cruise doesn't help the movies cause either.
5.8.2006 2:03pm
Beau (mail) (www):
Crusie is an entertainer, and he has found a very clever way to entertain. He's like the world's greatest internet troll. As far as I know, he's never visited any discussion board I frequent, and yet people can't stop talking about him. That's pretty outstanding. Plus, nobody can tell if he's being sincere or not. If he's just kidding, the whole schtick is kind of histerical in an Andy Kaufman sort of way.

If I see MI:3, it will be because (1) I want to know if crazed-Scientologist Tom Cruise can pull off his role, (2) I heard good things about Hoffman, and (3) I like the director of Alias. The fact that MI:2 stank will hold no sway, because the director is different here.
5.8.2006 2:05pm
I don't know what movie some of you were watching, but this was far and away the worst of the Mission Impossible movies. There were so many cheesy lines, predictable plot twists and unenecessary romances. As a friend commented to me when when the movie ended: "It was almost like they were trying to make a parody of the first two Mission Impossibles."
5.8.2006 2:09pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Actually, I didn't find the sofa-jumping that odd; I could see that it might be seen a charming, full-bore declaration of love (eg, "I'm so in love that I want to shout it from the rooftops").

But I didn't see it in context. Maybe in context it was weirder than it seemed to me.
5.8.2006 2:22pm
Adam Scales (mail):
I don't know what movie some of you were watching, but this was far and away the worst of the Mission Impossible movies.

I disagree - it was far and away the BEST of the the three! (Is this a great country, or what?). I've watched the first two uncountable times. The first is overwrought, but saved by the "2001"-inspired CIA sequence. The second has atrocious dialogue (which sounded much better in "Notorious"...was this a Viswanathan screenplay?), but had a kick-ass chase/fight ending.

MI: 3 is an entirely different movie that delivers some of the best stuntwork in the series (yes, the subtle editing improvement made possible by Cruise's stuntwork are well worth it for the enthusiast), one of the great villains in action moving history, and a semi-human Tom Cruise.

I've always been a fan. I don't miss any of his movies. He can act, but often chooses not to (strangely, I think Ethan Hunt is destined to become his signature role). But, he is clearly insane, and I am so sorry that many friends of mine will not see his movies on principle. He asked for it, truth be told, but I'm more forgiving. Go see it!

BTW, if you're a fan of "24" - and what right-thinking person isn't - there are many nods to that show's influence here. You will particularly like Hunt's evident completion of the "Jack Bauer School of Interrogation". It's worth the price of admission.
5.8.2006 2:41pm
Nunzio (mail):
It seems May 5 is a little early to be opening a major summer movie. MI:2 was released in late May. Maybe this has something to do with it. You can't push the start of the summer season before Mother's Day, in my opinion.

I'm going to see this flick, but not until after May 20.
5.8.2006 2:46pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I made the mistake of going to see the first one-and-one-half MI movies (I walked out half-way through the second, it was so bad.) I certainly won't waste my money on the third. That I get to boycott the looney-tune scientologist who has so messed up the life and mind of his current consort is just a cherry on the sundae.
5.8.2006 2:57pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
strangely, I think Ethan Hunt is destined to become his signature role

Thank god Spielberg didn't get him in with George Lucas to do a turn as a Jedi Master in Episodes I-III.
5.8.2006 3:22pm
byrd (mail):
It's hard to wrap my mind around the claim that $48 million in one weekend represents a failure that needs to be explained.
5.8.2006 3:49pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):
byrd, it's the failure to live up to expectations. While you are right to point out that $48 million is an admirable showing, the fact that it is less than expected means that the movie (and by association Cruise) is not as hot as they hype.

Many times, the failure to live up to expectations creates a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy as the person trends away from their (supposedly) high-level.

For an example of this, see the discussion surrounding expectations for the New Hampshire primary. It's all about the expectation. "Admirable showings" don't count for much.
5.8.2006 5:11pm
duglmac (mail):
It may be just that M II spent the last of the Mission Impossible franchise tolerance. I now I was very disappointed to see Tom Cruise trying to turn into his own vehicle.

I used to watch Mission Impossibe, the original TV series, and the movies are nothing like it. What happened to the team of equals? There is a huge potential, like the 'Oceans 11' format, for a team approach.

I certainly am not jumping at the bit waiting for M III. I'll watch it after it's done it's pay-per-view and on regular cable channels, where I can flip the channel if I think it sucks.
5.8.2006 6:15pm
SenatorX (mail):
I am one, and I know there are others, who will not pay to see Tom in a movie. $cientology is not just "wacky"!!! I will not be pushing power to Tom so he can further legitamize that nasty meme Hubbard put into play.

One reason why MI3 is being considered a failure even with the decent money it made is because there was a management change at the studios to "turn things around" and MI3 is the flagship movie for the new management.

The following is purely fictional:

BTW anyone else see Tom pimp his kids for PR at the red carpet event? Nice one. Tom is one scary dude. When I see him I can't help but think of those stories of what happened to him when he reached OT3 and went "nuts". Story goes he lost it and declared he wanted nothing to do with the "religion". He was going around in a daze with deep dark circles around his eyes and threatened to expose them. They went into major damage control mode and threw everything at him. Next thing you know he was wisked off too an unknown location for a "retreat". He comes back all shiny happy and pro Scientology again.

Now we all know the blackmail techniques used via the audits but the brainwashing is what is really scary. What I wonder is how crazy is Tom exactly? Does he "know" and is stuck(like travolta)? Is he back to being complete brainwashed?

5.8.2006 9:48pm
Can't find a good name:
What I don't understand is, if people are so turned off by Cruise's couch-jumping, anti-psychiatric rants and what have you, why they still went to see "War of the Worlds" in great numbers last year. That movie came out after Cruise's couch-jumping incident and feud with Brooke Shields, yet was a big hit. I can't imagine that attitudes have shifted against that much in the last year. Maybe people just didn't want to see this particular movie.
5.8.2006 11:00pm
Dude in the Veal Calf Office (mail) (www):
International gross was over $70 million and, as someone poined out earlier, this is a good opening for a non-holiday weekend. Any action movie needs a compelling villain and this one delivers. Plus this is wunderkind JJ Abrams' first feature, so his fans will come to see it. The movie will have legs and exceed $300m in world wide box office easily.
5.8.2006 11:36pm
I saw the last two Mission Impossible movies, but I have decided not to see Mission Impossible 3 because Tom Cruise's behavior disgusts me. I think he has really shot himself in the foot with all his bizarre stunts.
5.9.2006 11:13am

I can't imagine that attitudes have shifted against that much in the last year. Maybe people just didn't want to see this particular movie.

Or both.

I went to see War of the Worlds despite the fact that Cruise was in it, and because it looked good and the concept was one that interested me. I still wish they'd cast someone else, but I could deal with him in the role of a clueless loser stuck in a situation much bigger than he was and doing a barely tolerable job of muddling through.

I cannot stand the Mission:Impossible movies. The first one (again, despite Cruise) almost met its potential, because in all the series episodes, they always set up impossible situations, and they always skated on the edge of "What if it goes horribly wrong?" -- and that was an amazing idea to pursue for the movie. It stayed with the idea of a broad team of elite experts all working together seamlessly, until it unravelled, leaving Hunt out on his own (mostly).

The second one (yes, I went) through that out the window. I sat there both dumbfounded and enraged when they effectively said, "Mr. Hunt, the world as we know it will end in 48 hours, and as a member of an incredibly well funded organization with huge, huge numbers of agents (remember that NOC list from the first movie? HUGE!!!), you can take any two people you want to go save the world."

And solve the problem, not by incredibly tight teamwork and brillian psychological manipulation, but by kicking the crap out of the bad guy on the beach. For this we need the IMF?

Would you make a James Bond movie and have it be about how James retired to a small town in England to solve murder mysteries in the county? It might be a good movie, but it wouldn't be Bond.

Mission: Impossible is about teamwork, trickery, tight timing, and psychological manipulation. Not about spin kicks and big explosions. MI:2 might have been a good movie if it hadn't been pretending to be Mission: Impossible.

Casting Cruise in the lead for the franchise just adds insult to the injury.
5.9.2006 11:26am
This will reveal all.
5.10.2006 6:45pm