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.
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