I can still vividly recall the point in time when people thought that the Mission: Impossible franchise, as we knew it, would have to be scrapped, rebooted, or majorly altered if it was to continue. Tom Cruise had just jumped on Oprah’s couch, married Dawson’s Creek starlet Katie Holmes, and was buried under an onslaught of scrutiny over the practices of his religion (Scientology). When his Mission: Impossible III underperformed at the box office back in 2006- with an opening weekend gross that was $23 million less than that of its predecessor- many thought it meant doom for the Cruise brand, and that the M:I films would need a drastic change moving forward.
There was talk that Paramount was trying to lure another A-lister, someone like Brad Pitt, to take over as the lead of the next installment. There was talk that the series itself would beed to be put on pause, with so much attention in the espionage genre going to the formidable Bourne series and the newly-rebooted James Bond franchise. Maybe it was time to let the Impossible Missions Force take an extended vacation? Thankfully, the Mission: Impossible movies never came out that close to each other anyway. There’s always been a gap of at least four years between sequels, and that allowed Paramount to figure out what it was going to do- and it also gave Cruise’s profile a chance to stabilize a bit.
In 2011, the Brad Bird-directed Mission: Impossible; Ghost Protocol came out around Christmas time, and through a combination of strong word-of-mouth, stellar reviews, and fairly weak competition, it managed to singlehandedly save the franchise. While Paramount had built a contingency plan into the film by introducing Jeremy Renner’s Brandt to audiences so he could potentially take over the series if another Cruise-led endeavor underperformed, that proved to be unnecessary. Where as M:I III never managed to crack the $400 million mark, Ghost Protocol made just shy of $700 million. Mission: Impossible was back! But was it a fluke? Fortunate timing? People burnt out by the usual feel-good family fare of the holiday movie season, who were hungry for thrills?
With that in mind, all eyes were on Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation this past weekend. How would it do at the box office? How would critics respond? How would fans take to it? It isn’t Christmas time, and there’ve been plenty of action movies for people to consume this summer. Well, with the the top spot at the box office thanks to a $52.5 million opening, a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an A- CinemaScore from fans, Rogue Nation happily answered all of those questions.
The forecast for Rogue Nation quite bright. Written and directed by frequent Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie (Reacher), the film is also finding great success internationally. This weekend alone, the film made $65 million overseas- bringing the film’s worldwide cume to $120 million. This coming weekend, its primary challenger will be Josh Trank’s reboot of Fantastic Four– but the licensed Marvel film from 20th Century Fox isn’t exactly coming in roaring like a lion. Outside of that, there’s the counter-programming of Jason Bateman’s thriller The Gift and Meryl Streep’s rock & roll flick Ricki and The Flash.
Did you go see Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation this weekend? What’d you think?