erik lundegaard

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 The Outsiders $25.6 28  
1983 Losin' It $1.2 140  
1983 Risky Business $63.5 10 <— Becomes a star
1983 All the Right Moves $17.2 42  
1986 Legend $15.5 56  
1986 Top Gun $179.8 1 <— Becomes a superstar
1986 The Color of Money $52.2 12  
1988 Cocktail $78.2 9  
1988 Rain Man $172.8 1  
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
2001 Vanilla Sky $100.6 20  
2002 Minority Report $132.0 17  
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  
2008 Valkyrie $83.0 35  
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  
2012 Jack Reacher $80.0 38  
2013 Oblivion $89.1 41  
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.

 Tom Cruise movies

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Posted at 12:29 PM on Sun. Aug 02, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office  

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