Tom Cruise Jack Reacher: wtf or acceptable second slot at weekend box office?
Tom Cruise plays vigilante Jack Reacher in Christopher McQuarrie's concisely titled Jack Reacher, a film adaptation of Lee Child's novel One Shot. Things didn't start out very well, as some highly vocal fans of the Jack Reacher books – there are 17 of them (books, not fans) – were irked when it was announced that Cruise (5'7") would be playing Reacher (6'5"). Recently, tracking for the movie has been middling, and not helping matters are Jack Reacher's mostly unenthusiastic reviews. (See below.) [Photo: Tom Cruise Jack Reacher movie.]
Unsurprisingly, distributor Paramount said it expected Jack Reacher to earn an unimpressive $12-$15 million over the Dec. 21-23 weekend, behind only Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. True, the weekend before Christmas is generally a bit lowkey, but a debut in the low teens would have been quite weak for a movie featuring superstar Tom Cruise – he of blockbusters such as Top Gun, Rain Man, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, War of the Worlds, and the myriad Mission: Impossible movies.
Things looked brighter for both Tom Cruise and Jack Reacher when early estimates released Friday night indicated that Cruise's latest star vehicle would easily exceed Paramount's expectations, raking in around $17.5-18 million at 3,352 North American locations by Sunday evening. That would remain below Tom Cruise's debut-weekend averages, for sure, but it would also be remarkably better than expected, especially considering the timing of the release (generally lowkey weekend) and the fact that Jack Reacher still has both the Christmas and the New Year's holidays ahead of it.
However, things began looking somewhat dimmer when official studio estimates (as found at Box Office Mojo) were released Saturday morning, pegging Jack Reacher's Friday box office take at $5.1 million – or $600,000 below early (unofficial) Friday estimates. That means two things: a) Jack Reacher will have trouble reaching $18 million, unless things get surprisingly better on the weekend proper (Monday being a semi-holiday should help things on Sunday evening) b) Jack Reacher should still exceed Paramount's expectations, collecting at least $15 million, possibly up to $16.5m-17m. (See also: "Box Office: Jack Reacher vs. other Tom Cruise movies.")
Tom Cruise's height a box office problem for Jack Reacher?
As discussed in two previous Alt Film Guide posts about Jack Reacher, a number of pundits made fun of Tom Cruise having the gall to play Jack Reacher, affirming that Cruise's height would have a negative impact on Jack Reacher's box office prospects. If the Cruise / McQuarrie collaboration fails to reach even $17-$18 million, they can say they were right. But they weren't – and wouldn't be.
If the $60m-budgeted Jack Reacher doesn't become at least a moderate box office success in North America – and for now it does look like it will become one – that'll be chiefly because of the adult-oriented thriller's mediocre reviews: Jack Reacher has a poor 41 percent approval rating and 5.5/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. Additionally, whether 5'7" or 7'7", the Scientologist Tom Cruise is still struggling to restore his image following a barrage of relentlessly vicious attacks in the American media in the last six years or so. (Check out the "negative box office effect" of "height-challenged" performers Taylor Lautner, Peter O'Toole, and – possibly – Robert Pattinson.)
Tom Cruise: International megastar
And remember, Scientology or no, Tom Cruise remains a huge star internationally. Rock of Ages – not truly a "Tom Cruise movie" – may have bombed outside North America, but Mission: Impossible III, a relative disappointment in the U.S. and Canada ($134.02 million), earned $263.82 million internationally. Also, the Robert Redford-directed Lions for Lambs earned three times more internationally ($48.21m) than in North America ($15 million), while Valkyrie grossed $117.19 million abroad vs. $83.07 million on the domestic front.
Nearly 71 percent of the worldwide box office gross of Knight and Day came from overseas – $185.5 million – while the international percentage for Mission: Impossible IV - Ghost Protocol was nearly 70 percent: $485.31m. My point: whatever happens at the U.S. and Canada box office, expect Jack Reacher to perform much better outside North America, where moviegoers apparently care about watching Tom Cruise in action, whether playing a midget or a giant, and regardless of his religious / philosophical beliefs.
Official weekend box office estimates will be released Sunday morning. Domestic weekend box office actuals are generally released on Monday, but since that'll be Christmas Eve, we may have to wait until Wednesday.
Tom Cruise heads Jack Reacher cast
Tom Cruise Jack Reacher movie photo: Karen Ballard / Paramount Pictures.