Home Movies UPDATE: Tom Cruise Has Lowest Opening Weekend Box Office Just About Ever

UPDATE: With the exception of the oddity called “Lions for Lambs,”  Tom Cruise has never had a lower opening weekend box office than with “Jack Reacher.” I’m counting here his movies that opened in more than 2,000 theatres. “Reacher”  took in just $15.6 million. That’s actually less than each of Cruise’s last two films, “Knight and Day” and “Valkyrie,” which were in similar size releases and– in the case of the lamentable “Valkyrie”– at Christmas as well. Those two releases opened in the $20 mil range.

You have to go back 20 years to “Far and Away” to find a Cruise opening weekend that made less money–$10 mil, only 1800 theaters. Is this a referendum for Cruise in non Mission Impossible vehicles? It’s definitely a wake up call. As I’ve said for years, his best shot at regaining a larger audience is to find a new “Jerry Maguire” role where he can woo the female audience with his infectious grin. He’s also going to have to get real with promotion– actual interviews, with real answers to questions. And maybe he’ll get the message that Scientology has helped destroy three marriages, and now, possibly, it imperils his career.

Earlier: The confluence of many things, starting with the Newtown, Connecticut killings and ending with Tom Cruise’s aversion to doing much personal publicity, has ended with a disappointing opening night for “Jack Reacher.” Playing in over 3,300 theaters, “Reacher” made only $5.1 million on Friday night.

That’s considerably less–a million dollars or so — than “Knight and Day” made in 2010 on its first Friday night. That movie went on to make just around $78 million.

Of course, the producers of “Jack Reacher” say it only cost $60 million. That’s ridiculous since Cruise gets $20 million off the top. And they spent a lot on international premieres, and canceled junkets. No matter– “Jack Reacher” didn’t cost just $40 million other than Cruise’s salary.

“Reacher” is a key referendum on Tom Cruise outside of “Mission Impossible” franchise. If it makes $15 million or less this weekend, that’s not a good sign. “Reacher” has been clobbered by the main critics. It’s also up against “The Hobbit”–which made twice as much money last night– as well as lingering and popular films like “Skyfall” and “Lincoln.” If a new Tom Cruise isn’t making much of a dent in the box office, that’s not good news.

Tomorrow we’ll see how the whole thing played out.

PS Good news: what no one’s talking about is that Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” has quietly cruised to $73 million very quickly. How nice! I thought this Pi might have been undercooked, but it’s not so. Could very well be a Best Picture nominee, along with Lincoln, Argo, Silver Linings, Django, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Miz, The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and –hmmm– Amour?

thanks to Boxofficemojo.com:

Date Title (click to view) Studio Lifetime Gross / Theaters Opening / Theaters Rank
12/21/12 Jack Reacher Par. $15,600,000 3,352 $15,600,000 3,352 30
6/15/12 Rock of Ages WB (NL) $38,518,613 3,470 $14,437,269 3,470 25
12/16/11 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Par. $209,397,903 3,555 $12,785,204 425 3
6/23/10 Knight & Day Fox $76,423,035 3,104 $20,139,985 3,098 19
12/25/08 Valkyrie UA $83,077,833 2,838 $21,027,007 2,711 16
8/13/08 Tropic Thunder P/DW $110,515,313 3,473 $25,812,796 3,319
11/9/07 Lions for Lambs UA $15,002,854 2,216 $6,702,434 2,215 32
5/5/06 Mission: Impossible III Par. $134,029,801 4,059 $47,743,273 4,054 10
6/29/05 War of the Worlds Par. $234,280,354 3,910 $64,878,725 3,908 1
8/6/04 Collateral DW $101,005,703 3,205 $24,701,458 3,188 14
12/5/03 The Last Samurai WB $111,127,263 2,938 $24,271,354 2,908 12
7/26/02 Austin Powers in Goldmember
NL $213,307,889 3,613 $73,071,188 3,613
6/21/02 Minority Report Fox $132,072,926 3,001 $35,677,125 3,001 11
4/19/02 Space Station 3-D (IMAX)
Imax $86,738,386 64 $489,488 24
12/14/01 Vanilla Sky Par. $100,618,344 2,842 $25,015,518 2,742 15
5/24/00 Mission: Impossible II Par. $215,409,889 3,669 $57,845,297 3,653 2
12/17/99 Magnolia NL $22,455,976 1,086 $193,604 7 28
7/16/99 Eyes Wide Shut WB $55,691,208 2,483 $21,706,163 2,411 23
12/13/96 Jerry Maguire Sony $153,952,592 2,531 $17,084,296 2,531 8
5/22/96 Mission: Impossible Par. $180,981,856 3,012 $45,436,830 3,012 4
11/11/94 Interview with the Vampire WB $105,264,608 2,604 $36,389,705 2,604 13
7/2/93 The Firm Par. $158,348,367 2,393 $25,400,000 2,393 7
12/11/92 A Few Good Men Col. $141,340,178 2,201 $15,517,468 1,925 9
5/22/92 Far and Away Uni. $58,883,840 1,885 $10,194,520 1,583 22
6/29/90 Days of Thunder


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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
10 replies to this post
  1. I don’t know about Reacher, but the timing of the release is a headscratcher for Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand’s movie. Why would the studio release this movie in the mad rush for the Oscar trophy? Everybody knows that the Holidays is when a slew of “Oscar” chasers are released. It would have been better for them to release these movies AFTER the rush….the movies out are Pi, Hobbit, Django, Les Mis….just too many “big” movies for the little movies to be seen.

  2. I had a choice to see Reacher or Skyfall (violent) or the Guilt Trip….I chose the Guilt Trip and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m turned off by all the revenge gun-shooting, guns-blazing movies. I’ve seen it so many times before, and I predict the vast majority of audiences will reach their saturation point with the violence.

    Cruise normally makes good “action” movies, but I would rather he turn to comedy now at this point in his life and stop being the macho man.

  3. They are very well aware this time of the year is season of those competitive Oscar contender films, they just released it this time so that they can have an excuse for a film was meant to flop on box office in the first place

  4. Vernfitz is exactly. It’ hard to have a successful film when you alienate all of the Reacher fans with the egotistical casting of Cruise in this role by Cruise himself. Bomb away film, bomb away. Maybe next time you’ll take fans seriously when recasting this film, if they ever make another one.

  5. I saw this at a multiplex on Saturday night. To my surprise they had it in one of their smaller theaters. The crowd was “older” over 50, over 60…no young people. And it was maybe 70 percent full.

    Cruise was like a robot in his performance. It was like watching a poorly written episode of some cop show you see on TV.

    It was one of those bad films, that you laugh at so you are amused by how bad it is.

    Cruise sole purpose is to re-inforce the Tom Cruise BRAND…strong, confident, powerful, smarter then everyone and the women love him.

    this movie was an embarrassment…cruise cant act…

  6. I don’t know what Tom Cruise should do, but please – we in the female audience do not want his grin. It’s not infectious, it’s just strange. Cruise can sometimes be a good actor, but he does not really want to be a leading man, and we get those vibes – plus we do not like how he treated Nicole Kidman, or how Katie Holmes had to make a well planned escape to get out of the marriage with her daughter. Being separated from kids is a female nightmare, and Cruise is on the wrong side of that.

    Didn’t someone say he does best financially when impressing teenage boys with action movies? As for Scientology, he’ll never get the message. He lacks receptors for common sense in that field. As for Reacher, the excessive violence of it may keep me away.

  7. Roger, I agree the lack of Tom Cruise interviews ( and promotion) has hurt the film’s box-office, but “Jack Reacher” was released during a very competitive film period. How could this movie compete with Les Miz ( already selling out tickets and breaking records), The Hobbit, and Django Unchained. Please, notice The Guilt Trip is not doing well at the box-office for the same reason. To be fair, I am sure Jack Reacher will do well abroad.

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