My friends, there is trouble in River City. Or make that, Universal City.
Tom Cruise’s new movie, “American Made,” is opening this week. Only, not in the United States. This week “American Made” opened in Taiwan and the Netherlands. Next week, it begins a rollout around the world. All through the rest of August moviegoers in 20 countries will be able to see “American Made.”
Then, in September, another dozen or so countries will get it.
Finally, on September 29th, when the entire world has cast their vote on “American Made,” the Doug Liman-directed adventure will open in the United States.
This is HIGHLY unusual. But for Universal, which just experienced rough times with Tom Cruise in “The Mummy,” it’s a preventative measure. “The Mummy” did poorly in the US ($80 mil) but very well abroad ($325 mil). So why open it here first, where American audiences’ ambivalence toward Cruise could queer the whole deal? Better to open around the world, and let grouchy US audiences see it last.
Tonight, Rotten Tomatoes published a handful of reviews from US writers. Did they like it? Even though they were lukewarm, Rotten Tomatoes labeled all the reviews positive. Because the movie doesn’t open here until September 29th, and many reviewers are on vacation, Universal was smart. They drew the second string reviewers.
Still, Variety’s Guy Lodge says comparisons to “GoodFellas” or “American Hustle,” suggested in press notes, don’t fly. He writes: “American Made” lacks the sense of moral reckoning and self-effacing human irony it needs to achieve the emotional payoff or tragicomic heft of “American Hustle,” let alone Scorsese’s masterwork.
Indeed, from the trailer below, Cruise sounds like Ray Liotta doing the voice over from “GoodFellas.” In Taiwan, they won’t care. But in the US, that may be be a problem.
So we’re in new territory here. Most blockbusters open in the US first, then around the world. Some open day and date, and a few get a couple of days head start abroad. But six weeks of “previews” before America sees it? Never. And Cruise, who loves to go on world promotional tours, is sidelined with a broken ankle and other injuries from a mishap shooting “Mission Impossible 6.” That doesn’t help.
Stay tuned. This “American Made” journey begins now and will take six weeks to unfold– again, very unusual. We will definitely see reports of HUGE box office in foreign lands. But let’s not forget, they just want to see Tom Cruise grin. The reality of “American Made” is off in the distance.