Strong B.O.: Cruise Keeps Above the Rising Tide

Last week, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 opened to positive reviews, but made a disappointing $48 million. Pundits went into overdrive. (I stayed quiet because with so many strong opinions, who needed mine.) Some believed Cruise’s antics have finally turned audiences against him. Others saw this as another sign of the box office slump.
This weekend, newcomer POSEIDON underperformed so badly (just breaking $20mil), it came in 2nd to M:I-3. So what does it all mean? Is there a slump? Is good word spreading on M:I-3, or is POSEIDON really that dull?
I saw M:I-3 last week. As a movie, it’s good. As a summer movie, it’s really good. There’s an interesting story, solid characters, a couple of nice twists and a real feel for delivering cinematic thrills. As for Cruise, he was in 100% movie star mode and not once did he try to sell me on Scientology. Know why? Cause I wasn’t watching Tom Cruise, I was watching Ethan Hunt lead his team from one risky mission to another. Just like I know Phillip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t really trying to take over the world, I knew I was watching a movie.
I don’t care much about an actor’s personal life. I work in this business, and I know some real a-holes, but unless they do something like hurt children, own slaves or use their wealth to push the Nazi agenda, I really don’t care. Sure, some actors push a personal agenda in their work (paging Mr. Clooney), but those are found in what we call “Oscar pictures”. Those who say audiences avoided M:I-3 because of Tom Cruise’s private life also feel if you watch MR. & MRS. SMITH you will gain insight into Brad and Angelina’s romance. Wishing it were true dosen’t make it so.

Not counting Steven Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS, M:I-3 is Cruise’s biggest opening since…well since M:I-2. Cruise is a big star, but with films like VANILLA SKY and THE LAST SAMURAI, his numbers have been lower that expected for a while. Even COLLATERAL (well reviewed and people like it quite a bit) opened below $25mil and ended up just over $100mil. (Cruise’s 2nd biggest success after M:I-2…MINORITY REPORT, also directed by Spielberg and also considered a disappointment with a total gross of $132mil.)
As for POSEIDON, I’m sure it sounded like a good idea in the pitch meeting. They even hired the director of THE PERFECT STORM, who made millions off his shot of a really big wave. Only this time, there was no key image. In fact, down the line, nothing seemed terribly interesting. This bland vibe was reinforced in many reviews. A big, costly picture ($160mil), surprisingly short (under 100min) and with no megastars, I’m surprised it did so well.
So, we’re two weeks into the Summer movie season, and both big films landed below expectations. It could be a slump, with people deciding to wait for DVD, but I think we’ll have a clearer picture with next week’s two big releases. Director Ron Howard and Star Tom Hanks deliver THE DA VINCI CODE, based on one of the biggest selling books of all time. In the release slot of MADAGASCAR and the SHREK films (all performing way above expectations) we have OVER THE HEDGE, which looks much better than Pixar’s CARS. If these two don’t break out, THEN I’ll start talking about the slump.


Blogger Humby said...

there are a couple of things that I wish people would look at before they ever start to bring up the words "box office slump".

first of all, coming into May, there were seven weekends in a row that were up from last year. the total box office between this year and last is 2.72 billion compared to 2.57 billion for the first four months. i don't think you can look at that and start talking about a slump.

yes there have been two weekends in a row that were less than ideal, but the numbers are still up.

on a side note...
i also really enjoyed M:I 3 and i wish that people could look past Cruise's personal life and just go and enjoy a really good start to the summer movie season. and i was also one of the few that sat through POSEIDON and it was worse than i ever thought it would be and i would love to not only have my time back and my money.

4:04 PM  

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