In July, Tom Cruise‘s latest foray as Ethan Hunt, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” crashed into movie theaters like a runaway train, taking advantage of the fact it could get premium formats before the unstoppable “Barbenheimer” was unleashed.
Much of the narrative following “Dead Reckoning’s” opening weekend of $54.7 million is that it wasn’t performing up to spec, though one has to remember that it made another $23.8 million before the weekend for a five-day opening of $78.5 million. Although the weekend part was lower than the $61.2 million the previous “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” opened with in 2018, it was more than every previous “Mission: Impossible” movie.
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The problem that “Dead Reckoning” knew it was going to face was the combination of Greta Gerwig‘s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan‘s “Oppenheimer,” which were always going to grab all the screens (particular IMAX) just a week after it opened. Almost no one saw the real-life drama “Sound of Freedom” coming out of nowhere and making so much money either.
“Dead Reckoning” received similar rave reviews as “Fallout” and a great “A” CinemaScore, but the summer can be a particularly busy time with many movies demanding screens. A force like “Barbenheimer” is something so rare that not even Cruise could have expected the impact it might have on the latest “Mission: Impossible” installment.
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Here’s an overview of the whole franchise, which has now been going on for 27 years:
2023 – “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”
Opening: $54.7 million; Domestic Gross: $154.1 million
2018 – “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
Opening: $61.2 million; Domestic Gross: $220.2 million
2015 – “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”
Opening: $55.5 million; Domestic Gross: $195 million
2011 – “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
Opening: $12.8 million (IMAX only); Domestic Gross: $209.4 million
2006 – “Mission: Impossible III”
Opening: $47.7 million; Domestic Gross: $133.5 million
2000 – “Mission: Impossible 2”
Opening: $57.8 million; Domestic Gross: $215.4 million
1996 – “Mission: Impossible”
Opening: $45.4 million; Domestic Gross: $181 million
In general, the franchise has had quite a few highs and lows and “Dead Reckoning Part One” is still faring better than 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III,” a notable misfire for the franchise that may have suffered from Cruise’s private life exploits that was overshadowing his work as an actor during that period. 2011’s “Ghost Protocol,” directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), took a different approach by being released in over 450 IMAX theaters before expanding wider, and it also was released in December that year, so it was able to get a nice bump from the holidays. (It was also arguably one of the best movies in the franchise until “Fallout.”)
The problem is that the latest installment isn’t getting any of the theaters it has lost since opening back as “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” hold strong and even gain theaters, so it might not even catch up to the original movie’s $181 million, which doesn’t account for over 25 years of ticket price inflation.
So what can Paramount do to make sure next year’s “Dead Reckoning Part Two” doesn’t follow a similar path as “The Matrix Revolutions” in 2003 or 2015’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” which ended their respective franchises on a low note. “The Matrix” did try to revive the franchise with 2021’s “The Matrix Resurrections,” which was anything but, and this November, the prequel “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbird & Snakes” will try to see if that franchise can be revived without any of the original cast.
The ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes makes it difficult to know if director Christopher McQuarrie and his team might be able to get “Dead Reckoning Part Two” finished sooner, maybe to strike while the iron is still hot or take advantage of the bump in business that movies get over the holidays, a la “Ghost Protocol.”
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