Tom Cruise Jack Reacher movie: Domestic box office flop?
Jan. 3 update: Tom Cruise plays vigilante Jack Reacher in the concisely titled Jack Reacher, Paramount Pictures’ film adaptation of the novel One Shot by Lee Child a.k.a. James (Jim) D. Grant. The Usual Suspects’ Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie directed and penned the big-screen adaptation.
Things didn’t start out very well for the movie version, 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 the 5’7” Cruise would be playing the 6’5” Reacher. (More on this earth-shattering outrage further below.)
Not helping matters were the adult-oriented thriller’s mediocre reviews: 41 percent approval rating and 5.5/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.
Paramount cautiously said it expected Jack Reacher to earn – a highly unimpressive – $12–$15 million at 3,352 North American locations on its debut weekend, Dec. 21–23. This would have been a weak opening for any wide release, but especially for a high concept thriller toplining 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 Mission: Impossible movies.
New franchise likely not forthcoming
Things began looking a little brighter when early estimates released on opening night (Dec. 21) indicated that Cruise’s latest star vehicle would easily exceed Paramount’s (official) expectations, raking in around $18 million by Sunday evening. Things looked quite a bit dimmer when, as found at boxofficemojo.com, Jack Reacher ended up taking in only $15.2 million.
Things haven’t been looking up since then. This past weekend (Dec. 28–30), Jack Reacher brought in $13.6 million, for a grand total of $44.2 million after ten days.
A total Tom Cruise flop? Well, not so fast.
An unexpected Tom Cruise hit? Definitely not.
After all, there’s no chance Jack Reacher will reach (no bad pun intended) the $100 million mark it the U.S. and Canada. As a consequence, there’s no chance it’ll manage to recover its $60 million budget (not including marketing and distribution expenses) at the domestic box office.
In other words, unless Jack Reacher becomes a major international hit – not an impossibility (more on that further below) – don’t expect it to become the first installment of a new cinematic franchise.
Jack Reacher vs. recent Tom Cruise movies
For comparison’s sake: While taking into account its box office-boosting high-profile sequel status, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth installment in Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise, scored $12.8 million at only 425 locations on its debut weekend in mid-December 2011. MI4 averaged $30,083 per theater.
Perhaps a more adequate comparison, Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie – co-written by Jack Reacher‘s director McQuarrie – opened with $21 million right after Christmas Day 2008. Distributed by United Artists, the 75 million-budget World War II thriller eventually collected $83.1 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $200.3 million worldwide. Despite its brand-name recognition, Jack Reacher will most likely follow a more modest trajectory.
Comparisons to this year’s box office flop Rock of Ages would be pointless, as it wasn’t a Tom Cruise star vehicle. Anyhow, in all likelihood the only reason Adam Shankman’s critically lambasted musical eventually cumed at $38.2 million domestically was because of people curious to see Cruise as a long-haired rock-and-roller.
Tom Cruise’s height a box office problem?
Now, complaints about Tom Cruise being too short to play Jack Reacher – and remarks that Cruise’s height would somehow affect Jack Reacher‘s box office prospects – are inane at best.
If Tom Cruise would be an inappropriate, box office-unfriendly Jack Reacher because of his height, then how to explain Peter O’Toole (6’3”) playing T.E. Lawrence (5’5”) in David Lean’s multiple Oscar winner Lawrence of Arabia, one of the biggest blockbusters in film history?
How exactly did Taylor Lautner’s height (supposedly 5’10”) interfere with his playing the 6’7” Jacob Black in the various Twilight movies? Would New Moon have broken more box office records each had Lautner been a foot taller?
And let’s not forget that Tom Cruise was widely ridiculed when it was announced he was going to play the lead in Neil Jordan’s 1994 film version of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. That Cruise movie ended up grossing $105.26 million (not adjusted for inflation) in North America alone.
In the U.S., the Scientologist Tom Cruise is still struggling to restore his image following a barrage of relentlessly mean-spirited attacks in the American media in the last six years or so.
But Scientology or no, 5’7” or 6’7”, 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 million), earned $263.8 million internationally.
Also, the Robert Redford-directed Lions for Lambs, despite its political theme, earned three times more internationally ($48.2 million) than in North America ($15 million), while Valkyrie grossed $117.2 million abroad vs. $83.1 million on the domestic front.
There’s more: $185.5 million – or nearly 71 percent – of the worldwide box office gross of Knight and Day came from outside the U.S. and Canada, while the international percentage for Mission: Impossible IV – Ghost Protocol was nearly 70 percent ($485.3 million).
In other words: whatever happens at the domestic box office, expect Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher movie to perform much better elsewhere, as international moviegoers apparently enjoy watching Tom Cruise in action, whether playing a midget or a giant, and regardless of his religious or philosophical beliefs.
Sturdy legs in domestic market
Spring 2013 update: Jack Reacher eventually cumed at $218.34 million worldwide: $138.26 million international; a better than expected $80.07 million domestic – or a little behind Valkyrie.
The actioner’s top international markets were the United Kingdom ($15.23 million), China ($15.09 million), France ($11.89 million), Japan ($11.04 million), and Australia ($8.98 million).
Jack Reacher cast & plot
In addition to Tom Cruise in the title role, Jack Reacher features:
Rosamund Pike. Nicole Forester. Michael Raymond-James. Jai Courtney. David Oyelowo. Joseph Sikora. Dylan Kussman. David Whalen.
Best Actor Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, 2008).
Best Actor Oscar winner Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies, 1983).
Set in Pittsburgh, Jack Reacher takes off after a sniper kills five people. A former U.S. Army sniper (Joseph Sikora) is accused of the murders, but he swears he’s innocent. Enter part-time vigilante and former Military Police Corps officer Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) to ensure that the man is indeed guilty.
Problems ensue when Reacher discovers there’s a lot more to the story. Rosamund Pike, seen earlier this year as Andromeda in Wrath of the Titans, plays the accused sniper’s defense attorney.
See also: “Jack Reacher trailer.”
Bette Midler-Billy Crystal comedy Parental Guidance surprises
Also on the Dec. 28–30 weekend, Andy Fickman’s widely panned comedy Parental Guidance, starring two-time Best Actress Oscar nominee Bette Midler (The Rose, 1979; For the Boys, 1991) and former Oscar host Billy Crystal, raked in a surprising $14.55 million from 3,358 venues.
That’s hardly a fantastic figure, but as the sole reasonably successful comedy this season, the Midler-Crystal pairing will likely go on performing above expectations.
Also in the Parental Guidance cast: Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, 1992), Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf.
Spring 2013 update: The $25 million-budget Parental Guidance cumed at a respectable $77.26 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $42.5 million elsewhere.
Platform releases: The Impossible & Not Fade Away + mysterious On the Road
Now, notable among this weekend’s limited/platform releases were:
- Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, which is performing just (barely) okay at 15 theaters: $143,818 over the weekend.
- David Chase’s Not Fade Away, featuring James Gandolfini, took in an anemic $54,795 at 19 locations. (Up from $19,182 at three locations last weekend.)
Curiously, IFC/Sundance Selects figures for Walter Salles’ movie version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road have not been made available. In the cast: Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, and Kristen Stewart. (Update.)
Barbra Streisand comeback The Guilt Trip bombs
The Guilt Trip star Barbra Streisand should have been a shoo-in for the 2013 Golden Globes in the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category. When Streisand failed to get nominated – despite a promo snafu claiming that she had been – it seemed clear that something was dead wrong with the Anne Fletcher-directed, mother-son road movie comedy co-starring Seth Rogen.
Perhaps it’s a mere coincidence – totally unrelated to the Golden Globes, that is – but The Guilt Trip reviews have been generally pretty mediocre. Notwithstanding the presence of one of cinema’s (and pop culture’s) iconic figures of the late 20th century, Paramount’s $40 million production has a 48 percent approval rating and 5.9/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics.
Unable to crack even the $10 million mark, The Guilt Trip ended up grossing a measly $7.3 million at 2,431 North American locations over the course of its first five days out (Dec. 19–23) – $5.3 million of which over the weekend (Fri.–Sun.). Its weekend per-theater average was an embarrassing $2,176.
Even with a 24 percent jump on the Nov. 28–30 weekend, The Guilt Trip averaged only $2,693 per site – or $6.5 million over the weekend, for a grand total of – a paltry – $21 million after 12 days.
Barbra Streisand: 1970s box office magnet
Barbra Streisand was a box office magnet in her heyday in the 1970s, a time when she was the only woman to be consistently found among Hollywood’s top box office draws.
Whether watchable (The Way We Were, For Pete’s Sake) or unwatchable (Funny Lady, A Star Is Born, The Main Event), her movies were nearly all major box office hits – Vincente Minnelli’s costly musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) and Irvin Kershner’s unusual, little-remembered comedy-drama Up the Sandbox (1972) were the two exceptions.
Here are a few examples of Streisand’s ’70s allure: What’s Up Doc? (1972), Funny Lady (1975), A Star Is Born (1976), and The Main Event (1979) took in, respectively, $66 million, $39 million, $80 million, and $42.8 million. That would translate into approximately $310 million, $150 million, $300 million, and $135 million in 2012 dollars.
Even On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, which failed to recover its mammoth budget at the box office, took in $14 million at the beginning of the decade – the equivalent of about $70 million today.
The Guilt Trip will be very lucky if it reaches $30 million.
Spring 2013 update: The Guilt Trip reached $37.13 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Successful semi-retirement – until The Guilt Trip
Apart from one major commercial misfire – Jean-Claude Tramont’s 1981 romantic comedy-drama All Night Long, which actually stars Gene Hackman – Barbra Streisand’s sporadic film appearances since her 1970s heyday have all resulted in good-to-great box office figures.
So it’s more than a little shocking that The Guilt Trip – the two-time Oscar winner’s first movie lead since The Mirror Has Two Faces back in 1996 – has been received so unenthusiastically by movie audiences.
One possibility is that they’ve been unaware The Guilt Trip even exists, as the buzz surrounding Streisand’s “movie star comeback” has been surprisingly muted.
Who knows, maybe Paramount, having neither forgiven nor forgotten On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, has decided it should instead spend its marketing moolah on Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher.
Martin Ritt’s 1987 psychological/courtroom drama Nuts is Streisand’s weakest-performing star vehicle to date, having grossed $30.95 million in 1987 – or the equivalent of about $60 million today.
The Guilt Trip cast
Besides Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, The Guilt Trip features:
Adam Scott. Colin Hanks. Kathy Najimy. Dale Dickey. Miriam Margolyes. Brandon Keener. Brett Cullen. Ari Graynor.
Dan Fogelman (Cars, Cars 2, Tangled, Bolt, and the live-action Crazy, Stupid, Love) wrote the screenplay.
All Night Long pay & Barbra Streisand Oscars
 With powerhouse agent Sue Mengers on her side, Barbra Streisand reportedly earned $4 million + 15 percent of the gross for her work in All Night Long. (See Frank Rose’s The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business.)
 Barbra Streisand’s two Academy Award wins: as Best Actress for her portrayal of early 20th-century entertainer Fanny Brice in William Wyler’s Funny Girl (1968; she tied with Katharine Hepburn for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter) and as a composer (with lyricist Paul Williams) for the song “Evergreen” from A Star Is Born.
Information about Barbra Streisand’s All Night Long salary: Anne Edwards’ Streisand: A Biography.
Tom Cruise Jack Reacher movie images: Karen Ballard / Paramount Pictures.
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler Parental Guidance image: Phil Caruso / 20th Century Fox.
Barbra Streisand The Guilt Trip photo: Paramount Pictures.
“Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise Flops? + Barbra Streisand Bombs & Bette Midler Surprises” last updated in July 2018.