Tom Cruise, the star who is credited with saving the box office after Top Gun: Maverick flew to $1.5 billion in global ticket sales, is now facing another kind of reckoning — surviving the Barbenheimer effect.
His Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One tumbled a franchise-worst 64 percent to $19.5 million in its second weekend when going up against Barbie and Oppenheimer, whose dual arrivals transformed into a cultural phenomenon and propelled the domestic box office to historic heights. Revenue for the July 21-23 weekend was the fourth-biggest of all time; in addition, it was the first time ever that one movie opened to $100 million or more and another to $50 million or more. Barbie scored $155 million, followed by $80.5 million for Oppenheimer. No one in Hollywood anticipated such a staggering turnout.
The seventh installment in Paramount and Skydance’s storied Mission: Impossible series, which finished Sunday with a domestic total of $118.8 million, had hoped to earn as much as $25 million in its second outing.
The question now is whether Dead Reckoning Part One can level out and enjoy a long run as other series installments have done, and just as Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick did. Executives across Hollywood, and not just at Paramount, aren’t ruling Dead Reckoning out just yet, especially since it has a better critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes than Barbie and Oppenheimer, as well as strong audience exit scores.
“I don’t think the story has yet been written,” says one executive at a rival studio.
Mission: Impossible pics have never sported mega-openings, yet expectations were high for Dead Reckoning after Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick opened to $160.5 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2022, including $126.7 million for the three days. Dead Reckoning had been tracking to open to $90 million in its first five days beginning July 12; instead, it took in a franchise-best $78.5 million, not adjusted for inflation.
Titles in the Mission franchise have always drawn a larger percentage of their global gross from the foreign box office. Dead Reckoning Part One is no exception. It earned another another $55 million from 72 markets in its second weekend for a foreign tally of $252.1 million and $370.9 million globally through Sunday. It is doing especially well in Asia, where Barbie and Oppenheimer aren’t strong players. And in a number of markets, it is pacing 15 percent or more ahead of 2018’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout. In Japan, it debuted to $7.9 million, 23 percent ahead of Fallout, which earned a franchise-best $571.5 million overseas for a global total of $791.7 million, including $220.2 million in North America.
Mission: Impossible 7 had to contend with losing Imax screens for three weeks to Oppenheimer, in addition to losing premium large-format screens to both Oppenheimer or Barbie. The upcharge for Imax and PLFs is significant, and can have a big impact on the bottom line. In early July, Imax screens were dedicated to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Cruise’s latest movie, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, cost nearly $300 million to produce and saw its release date delayed numerous times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was initially set to open in summer of 2021, then summer or fall of 2022. Its release date ultimately landed on mid-July of this year, a date dictated by the shooting schedule of Dead Reckoning Part Two and Cruise’s availability to promote Part One (the actor is known for his global marketing efforts).
Adds another observer: “Barbenheimer siphoned off MI7‘s potential this weekend, with Oppenheimer drawing older males away from Dead Reckoning. Not only that, Sound of Freedom is an unexpected force to be reckoned with and is presenting competition from an unlikely source.”
Estimates for the U.S. box office show Angel Studios’ faith-based political thriller Sound of Freedom in beating Dead Reckoning for the weekend with $20.1 million for a cume of $123.4 million (Sound of Freedom opened on July 4).
Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part Two is set to open in theaters on June 28, 2024. McQuarrie and Cruise have shot much of the movie, but production is now halted because of the SAG-AFTRA strike in another moment of reckoning for the storied action franchise.
Things looked different in late June, when Cruise — Hollywood’s highest-profile advocate for the theatrical experience — urged audiences to see Dial of Destiny. And, yes, two other movies in a surprisingly effective plea. Wrote the actor on Instagram : “I love a double feature, and it doesn’t get more explosive (or more pink) than one with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.”