Cruise on the Couch: Mission: Incomprehensible

Maybe it was the surfeit of colons in its title. Maybe it was the couch jumping. Or maybe its that Tom Cruise is pushing 44. Whatever the case, the box office reports are in for “Mission: Impossible: 3”.

Rather than focus on the result – a less than explosive $48 million domestic gross, some $70 million overseas – we’ll focus on the coverage of that result.

In The Hollywood Reporter, the headline reads “Mission: Inconclusive” – a sure sign that the paper knows on which side its bread is buttered.

“The film did accomplish the mission to expand the overall boxoffice for the first weekend in May. The estimated combined gross for the top 12 films was $100.3 million — up a stellar 28% from the comparable session last year, when 20th Century Fox’s “Kingdom of Heaven” bowed in the top spot with $19.6 million.”

Variety, too, points out that the previous two “Mission” films “opened on Memorial Day weekend…giving them a boost for Sunday evening shows,” but then goes on to pour a bit of lemon juice into the paper cut:

“[M:I:3”] certainly didn’t suffer from competition. Despite having earned positive reviews and posted good audience scores, U’s “United 93” dropped 55% in its second frame, grossing $5.2 million. Pic took in $2,865 per play at 1,819 theaters in its second weekend. Cume is $20.1 million. It turned out nobody gave a hoot about “Hoot,” as New Line and Walden’s kidlit adaptation opened to a dismal $3.4 million. Other wide debut, Freestyle Releasing’s “An American Haunting,” grossed a modest $6.4 million.”

Even the New York Times‘ Sharon Waxman takes direct aim at the Cruise PR problem. Viz:

“I can’t fault the marketing campaign; I can’t fault the trailers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the box office, adding that the film, directed by J. J. Abrams, received strong reviews. “The only X factor here is the Tom Cruise factor.”

(Maybe the Q score people were right after all: It might be time to quiet down and just stick to acting.)

Of course, there is a bright side here: Paramount chief Brad Grey looks like a genius for getting Tom to cut his obscene fees down to figure that’s merely borderline outrageous.

Thank god for small miracles.

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