Box Office: How Big a Star was Tom Cruise Anyway?
Tom Cruise's “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” won the weekend with a $56 million haul, beating the reprise of National Lampoon's “Vacation,” which earned $14.8 million after a Wednesday release. If you count its first two days as well, the reboot still comes in at only $21.7.
“M:I”'s gross is the 10th-best opening of the year, behind, among others, “Pitch Perfect 2,” but it's the third-biggest opening of Cruise's career, behind only “War of the Worlds” ($64.8 in 2005) and “Mission: Impossible II” ($57.8 in 2000).
Doesn't that seem startling? Tom Cruise has been a box-office champ for so long you expect his numbers to be higher. In the big three categories, in fact, here are the biggest movies of Tom Cruises's career, along with their rank in each category:
- Domestic: “War of the Worlds” (2005): $234.2 million (110th)
- Worldwide: “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” (2011): $694.7 million (77th)
- Domestic (adjusted for inflation): “Top Gun” (1986): $389.9 million (109th)
Each stat is startling in its own way.
No Tom Cruise movie grossed from than $235 million in the U.S.? And “Ghost Protocol” was his biggest worldwide hit? And even when you adjust for inflation to compensate for Cruise's early years as a movie star, his biggest hit, “Top Gun,” doesn't even rank in the top 100?
I thought Cruise was our biggest movie star over the past 30 years but these numbers don't really indicate it.
So I looked at other numbers—specifically where each movie ranked the year it was released:
|Year||Movie||Dom. Gross||Yearly Rank||Key moments in career|
|1981||Taps||$35.8||16||<— Stuns in debut|
|1983||Risky Business||$63.5||10||<— Becomes a star|
|1983||All the Right Moves||$17.2||42|
|1986||Top Gun||$179.8||1||<— Becomes a superstar|
|1986||The Color of Money||$52.2||12|
|1989||Born on the Fourth of July||$70.0||17||<— First Oscar nom|
|1990||Days of Thunder||$82.6||13|
|1992||Far and Away||$58.8||21|
|1992||A Few Good Men||$141.3||5|
|1993||The Firm||$158.3||4||<— No. 4 for the year?|
|1994||Interview with the Vampire||$105.2||11|
|1996||Mission: Impossible||$215.4||3||<— First M:I film|
|1996||Jerry Maguire||$153.9||4||<— Second Oscar nom|
|1999||Eyes Wide Shut||$55.6||42||<— Kubrick|
|1999||Magnolia||$22.4||80||<— Last Oscar nom|
|2000||Mission: Impossible II||$215.4||3||<— First sequel|
|2003||The Last Samurai||$111.1||20|
|2004||Collateral||$101.0||23||<— Villain role|
|2005||War of the Worlds||$234.2||4||<— Couch jumping on “Oprah,” etc.|
|2006||Mission: Impossible III||$134.0||14|
|2007||Lions for Lambs||$15.0||127|
|2010||Knight & Day||$76.4||45|
|2011||Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol||$209.3||7||<— Still Cruise's only sequels|
|2012||Rock of Ages||$38.5||84|
|2014||Edge of Tomorrow||$100.2||33|
All numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo.
Now his status makes a little more sense. From “A Few Good Men” in 1992 to “Mission: Impossible III” in 2006, the only Tom Cruise movies that didn't gross $100 million domestically were two serious art films with acclaimed directors. Hell, he even raised a difficult film like the U.S. remake of “Vanilla Sky” to the $100 million mark. He had two No. 1 movies in the 1980s, and top five movies in '92, '93, '96 (two in '96), 2000 and 2005. He kept cruising.
Most likely, his box office numbers would have gone down as he aged and his fans grew up and had kids of their own, but obviously his 2005 Summer of Weirdness, which included couch jumping on “Oprah,” chastising Matt Lauer for being glib on “Today,” and berating Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants after childbirth, sped up that process. It also probably dinged the b.o. numbers of “War of the Worlds” in 2005, as well as, a year later, “M:I III,” which is the least lucrative of the series by far.
Ever since that summer, Cruise has been crawling his way back, although rather than taking difficult projects he seems resigned to starring in “M:I” movies and smartish sci-fi and/or action flicks that do meh domestic box office. Before “Rogue Nation,” none of his movies this decade opened better than $38 mil—they averaged only $21 mil per opening—so “Rogue” is a nice reprieve for the besmirched, aging Scientologist. But the poster is indicative. Tom Cruise became a superstar by piloting planes and now he's on the outside of them, hanging on for dear life.