'Mission Impossible 7' Falls Short of Box Office Expectations
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'Mission Impossible 7' Falls Short of Box Office Expectations

Jul 13, 2023

By Rebecca Rubin

Film and Media Reporter

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” topped domestic box office charts while falling short of initial expectations. Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster collected $56.2 million between Friday and Sunday, a lackluster start for a movie that cost nearly $300 million before marketing.

Heading into the weekend, Paramount and Skydance’s action-adventure was hoping to establish a new franchise record with $60 million or more. Instead, ticket sales landed behind 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” ($61 million) and 2000’s “Mission: Impossible II” ($57.8 million), which remain as the top openings in the 27-year-old series.

Comparisons aren’t exact because “Dead Reckoning Part One” opened on Wednesday rather than Friday. The seventh installment has generated an estimated $80 million in its first five days of release, which is more than “Fallout” ($77.5 million) and “Mission: Impossible II” ($78.8 million) earned in their first five days in theaters. With a stellar 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and a glowing “A” CinemaScore, though, “Dead Reckoning” is likely to remain a force at the box office throughout the summer.

But right now, it’s pulling in similar numbers to Disney’s $300 million-budgeted “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which debuted to $60 million over the traditional weekend and pulled in $84 million through the five-day Fourth of July holiday frame. “Indiana Jones 5,” which doesn’t have the benefit of great reviews or very positive audience scores, hasn’t shown endurance; ticket sales stand at $136 million domestically and $302 million worldwide.

To avoid a similar fate, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” needs to have a box office run as long and unwieldy as the film’s title. The movie, which finds Cruise’s teflon operative Ethan Hunt defying death as he flies off a mountain on his motorcycle, scales a runaway train and maneuvers a tiny car through the bustling streets of Rome, was incredibly expensive due to COVID-related starts and stops and other pandemic-era safety measures. So there’s a chance that next summer’s sequel, “Dead Reckoning Part Two,” also directed and co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, will be less expensive.

Repeat business, as well as global box office returns, will be key in saving Cruise’s latest mission. Already, the seventh “Mission: Impossible” is showing strength at the international box office with $155 million, even with its weak $25.4 million debut in China. That brings its worldwide tally to a respectable $235 million, the biggest global start for the franchise.

“This [domestic] opening is roughly average for an action thriller at this point in its series,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The foreign markets are where action movies excel and the overseas openings are strong.”

“Mission: Impossible” films tend to attract an older audience, which doesn’t always show up in force on opening weekend. With good word-of-mouth, ticket buyers could continue to find the film, as was the case with Cruise’s enduring smash “Top Gun: Maverick,” which powered to $1.4 billion last summer.

In the past, “Mission” installments have demonstrated remarkable box office longevity even with smaller opening weekends. “Fallout,” for example, collected $61 million to start and ended up setting a series record with $791 million globally. Plus, “Mission” movies tend to earn roughly 70% of overall ticket sales at the international box office. That should help offset any potential shortcomings in North America.

That’s good news because Ethan Hunt is gearing up to face the phenomenon known as “Barbenheimer.” Next weekend, the latest “Mission” will compete for attention against Christopher Nolan’s dark historical drama “Oppenheimer” and Greta Gerwig’s hot pink romp “Barbie,” both of which open on July 21. The unlikely showdown between the two very different films has become an online craze, one that has carried into the real world with tens of thousands of moviegoers booking double features of “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.”

“‘MI7’ could also benefit by being in the epicenter of that box office storm as a hugely appealing alternative to the other two films,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “‘Cruisenheimer’ anyone?”

Elsewhere, the unlikely box office hit “Sound of Freedom” climbed to second place in its sophomore outing with $25 million from 3,265 theaters, up 25% from last weekend. The faith-based movie about child sex trafficking has collected a remarkable $83 million after two weeks of release. It’s a reminder in the power of religious audiences, who have turned out in force and look to propel the low-budget movie past $100 million.

Sony’s horror sequel “Insidious: The Red Door,” which led the box office last weekend, dropped to No. 3 with $13 million from 3,188 venues. So far, the movie has collected a strong $58 million on its $16 million budget.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” took fourth place in its third weekend of release, adding $12 million from 3,865 venues. To date, the Harrison Ford-led tentpole has grossed $145 million in North America and $302 million globally.

Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” rounded out the top five, generating $8.7 million from 3,235 theaters in its fifth weekend on the big screen. The animated family film, which cost $200 million, has managed to stick around with $125.3 million domestically and $311.7 million worldwide. But, like “Indy 5,” the massive production budget means it has ways to go to really climb out of the red in its theatrical run.

In limited release, Searchlight’s mockumentary “Theater Camp” opened to $270,000 from six theaters in New York and Los Angeles — averaging a healthy $45,000 per location. The film, which stars Ben Platt and Molly Gordon as kooky drama instructors who attempt to keep their beloved summer camp in business, premiered at Sundance Film Festival to enthusiastic reviews. Moviegoers were also complimentary, awarding the film an “A” CinemaScore. Next weekend, “Theater Camp” will continue its slow expansion to Austin, Chicago, Boston, Denver and San Francisco, among other cities.