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Knight and Day Box Office: Tom Cruise Not to Blame for Misfire?

Knight and Day Tom Cruise Cameron DiazKnight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz: Domestic box office underperformer. From Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll to Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane, and on to Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, until we finally reach Cruise and Diaz.
  • Knight and Day box office: Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, the James Mangold-directed spy caper has had a rough time in the domestic market. Is Cruise himself to blame?
  • The Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups is the latest bit of evidence that domestic audiences are eager for quality fare.

Knight and Day: Tom Cruise not responsible for the spy caper’s disappointing domestic box office figures?

June 25–27 weekend box office: Despite the continuing success of Walt Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3, things remain wobbly at the domestic box office. This past weekend, Adam Sandler’s idiocy-filled comedy Grown Ups performed above expectations while Tom Cruise’s action-filled spy caper Knight and Day brought in disappointing figures.

As found at Hollywood.com, weekend revenues totaled an estimated $160 million – down 20 percent from last year. That was when Michael Bay’s braindead thrill-ride Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen debuted with $109 million.

There’s more: With a total domestic gross of $1.7 billion to date, summer revenues are down 5 percent from 2009 while attendance is off almost 11 percent.

But wait! Hasn’t summer just begun in the northern hemisphere?

Not at the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office, where the summer season begins on the United States’ Memorial Day weekend in late May and ends on the U.S.’ Labor Day weekend in early September.

Now, a brief discussion of Grown Ups’ neuron-zapping appeal can be found further below. So we begin this article with a more interesting – and all but impossible to answer – question:

Why did the rollicking Knight and Day have such a lethargic debut at the domestic market?

When beating expectations isn’t enough

Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma), and starring Tom Cruise as a secret agent on the run and Cameron Diaz as an innocent bystander/car restorer, the generally pooh-poohed Knight and Day collected a mere $20.5 million from 3,098 locations this past weekend as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

The peripatetic action comedy (partly set in Spain and Austria) thus trailed both Toy Story 3 ($59.3 million on its second weekend) and Grown Ups ($40.5 million), while averaging $6,617 per theater – a barely passable figure even when taking into account that Knight and Day had opened the previous Wednesday.

Although not an outright bomb – $27.1 million after five days (about $2 million above pundits’ expectations) – Tom Cruise’s latest is an undeniable domestic flop because:

  • It’s a Tom Cruise action flick, so indifferent reviews shouldn’t matter – see Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible II.
  • Its $115–$125 million price tag (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).

‘Don’t blame Tom Cruise’

According to a lengthy Los Angeles Times article by Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey, after Knight and Day opened last Wednesday to dismal numbers ($3.8 million), many in the media were quick to hold Tom Cruise responsible. In Hollywood circles, however, the blame fell on distributor 20th Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman, “who picked the movie’s title, its release date and micromanaged its marketing campaign, down to approving stills and press kits for the film.”

In the same article, Fox’s co-president of marketing Tony Sella is quoted as saying, “Blame me, don’t blame Tom Cruise. We did lots of focus groups for [Knight and Day], and no one ever said there was a star problem. Never. Tom Cruise was not the issue. I take full responsibility. And if the movie ends up going to $100 million, I want full responsibility too.” (In the U.S. and Canada, it didn’t. See further below.)

Instead of Tom Cruise (or Tom Rothman), mentioned as possibilities for Knight and Day’s mediocre domestic numbers were the initial trailer shown at Avatar screenings (audiences found it “confusing”), the Saul Bass-inspired poster, the release date, and even the title. (No one thought of “Ost by Österreich”?)

Whatever the reason(s), Knight and Day is the latest Tom Cruise star vehicle to underperform domestically, following the sequel Mission: Impossible III, the political drama Lions for Lambs, and the World War II thriller Valkyrie.

Knight and Day shows that Tom Cruise remains a top international draw

Update: Knight and Day ultimately collected an underwhelming $76.4 million domestically and a hefty $185.5 million internationally. Worldwide total: $261.9 million.

That should have been enough to cover Knight and Day’s production budget, though not its marketing and distribution costs. It’s unclear whether ancillary revenues were enough to cover the difference, as Hollywood studios don’t release that sort of information.

Knight and Day’s top international markets were: Japan ($28.3 million), France ($14.3 million), South Korea ($14.2 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($14.1 million), China ($13.4 million), Germany ($9.1 million), Australia ($9.1 million), Brazil ($8.7 million), Russia/CIS ($7.8 million), and Spain ($7.6 million).

Something else: The fact that Knight and Day’s international figure is more than twice the domestic one should come as no surprise. Tom Cruise’s previous star vehicle, Valkyrie, grossed nearly 60 percent of its global take abroad ($118.5 million out of $201.5 million), while Mission: Impossible III, released during the height of the anti-Tom Cruise furor, took in more than 66 percent of its global take internationally ($264.4 million out of $398.5 million).

Grown Ups Adam SandlerGrown Ups with Adam Sandler: Healthy box office figures serve as further evidence that global audiences want original, quality fare.

Grown Ups box office: Lowbrow Adam Sandler comedy brings them in

Now, moving on from Knight and Day to this past weekend’s no. 2 movie on the domestic chart.

As mentioned further up, Sony Pictures’ Grown Ups, an $80 million Adam Sandler comedy that some box office pundits claimed wasn’t “tracking” at all, took in $40.5 million from 3,534 venues.

For comparison’s sake: Among Sandler’s biggest hits (not adjusted for inflation), Big Daddy opened with $41 million in 1999, Anger Management with $42 million in 2003, The Longest Yard with $47 million in 2005, Click with $40 million in 2006, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry with $34.2 million in 2007, and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan with $38.5 million in 2008.

Every single one of these titles went on to gross more than $100 million domestically, with a couple of them crossing the $150 million mark.

Moviegoers want quality, original imbecility

As can be attested by the figures listed above, Grown Ups has had a domestic debut on a par with Adam Sandler’s best while also reinforcing pundits’ notion that there’s no box office blues that a good movie can’t cure.

That is, as long as one ignores the fact that Grown Ups has been referred to (by the New York Times’ Stephen Holden) as “lazy, mean-spirited, incoherent, infantile and, above all, witless,” and that the audience-embraced comedy currently has a 10 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Besides Adam Sandler, Grown Ups features Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph. Dennis Dugan directed from a screenplay credited to Sandler and Fred Wolf.

Give global audiences what they crave…

Update: Grown Ups ultimately collected $162 million domestically and $109.4 million internationally. Worldwide total: $271.4 million.

It’s worth pointing out that the international figure is Adam Sandler’s best (not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations), as he has never been a top box office draw outside the United States.

Grown Ups’ top international market were Germany ($18.3 million), the United Kingdom ($12.2 million), Australia ($10.7 million), Spain ($8.5 million), Mexico ($7.7 million), Brazil ($7.7 million), and Russia/CIS ($6.6 million).


Knight and Day Box Office: Tom Cruise” endnotes

In case you’re wondering about this article’s top image caption: At least some of the time, Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll are on the run in The 39 Steps, Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane are on the run in Saboteur, and Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are on the run in North by Northwest. Not coincidentally, all three titles were directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Unless otherwise noted, “Knight and Day Box Office: Tom Cruise Not to Blame for Misfire?” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Knight and Day, Grown Ups, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise Knight and Day movie image: 20th Century Fox.

Adam Sandler Grown Ups movie image: Sony Pictures.

Knight and Day Box Office: Tom Cruise Not to Blame for Misfire?” last updated in October 2022.

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7 comments

jmas -

I saw this movie along with my wife daughter and mother-in law. My wife, who loves romantic comedies, laughed throughout the entire movie; my mother in law who has never been a Tom Cruiset Fan, laughed throughout the entire movie; my daugher had a great time; and I thought Tom Cruise was hilarious; more, the audience clapped when the movie ended. In all honesty I cannot udnerstand the reviews I have seen of the movie from the professional critics which are too my mind excessively critical. Cruise was charming, off-beat and disaplayed a genuine comedic talent, Diaz was warm, funny and displayed a natural megawatt charisma. It didn’t break new ground or leave me wanting to sing and dance my wa home, but it was money well spent. I have seen much worse. It ended, it was appreciated, no complaints, just warms smiles and a happy familyevening out; what more do you want other than Avatar 2. retrospectively the marketing campaign was awful and misleading: the campaign sold itself as some sort of action thrill ride and in fact it was a charming, romantic action comedy about a bored frustrated woman who falls into a bizarre, off the wall adventure and is rescued by a slightly battered knight in pummeled armour; and should have been advertised as such. The recent pictures of DIaz and Cruise on a bike, gazing into each others eyes were classic Hollywood star glamour and worked. I have never seen such appalling posters for such a big movie as the original ad campaign which looked like something two 1st year students would put together. The movie was a very well deisgned peice for Cruise o reconnect with his former female audience, with Diaz as the perfect reflection of that audience (This was the only element I found strained, the desire to make Cruise an object of desire again was a little too evident), but he has a career to turn around and who is to say he hasn’t the right to try. I watched this movie in Lebanon by the way, with a mainly female audience and as I said earlier, it went down well. This ongoing campaign to ruin Cruise’s career is turning into a witch hunt; and i find the ridiculously mean comments posted by Cruise haters on a range of blogs symptomatic of a sad tendency on the part of the bored, the lonely and the envious to just spew hate and invective at people who are more successful. I personally found Cruise’s couch hopping to be be extraordinarily painful to watch, but if that’s the worst thing he ever does in his life - he is not a wife beater, or a proponent of endless wars abroad, he hasn’t hurled abuse at members of his crew, or been pulled over by a cop and spat out anti-Jewish rhetoric, nor has he stolen people’s life savings, or convinced the middle classes to buy homes they can’t afford, or reneged on campaign promises (I could go on). Really, if, when a man meets his maker and the worst that can be said of him is that he made an ass of himself on Oprah, well, I think he will be abe to look back on his life and say “I did Okay” He screwed up, we all screw up. I think it’s time to move on. Let’s leave the bile and petuance where it belongs in Salem.

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Joxe4 -

I just read several articles about Tom Cruise and his latest movie Knight & Day and I am extremely upset over this whole Tom Cruise thing. I have read tons of hate comments towards the actor just because he freely chose a religion some people don’t like. It seems the once “land of freedom” is not so anymore. It’s obviously the land of bigotry and bullying these days. It seems people are able to choose the religion they wish freely and they have the right to express what they think freely and to be respected, but they don’t give Tom Cruise that right. They all have it but Tom Cruise doesn’t. How do you call that?

He jumped at Oprah’s couch. I watched that and I found it a really funny show and enjoyed it a lot. The man had found love and was full of happines. I wish I was that lucky. But obviously he doesn’t have the right to be happy in public or express his feelings in public either.

What we have seen in America is the worst mass bullying against a celebrity I’ve ever seen and I feel ashamed of the unhuman American Media and American People.

Many journalists and people not only picked on him for months and months, but insulted him for many stupid things such as for not being tall, thus insulting all the people on earth who aren’t tall, like me.

His movie Knight & Day just opened a few days ago in America and it didn’t open in the rest of the world yet but the media is already saying it bombed. How you dare! You don’t know! You have no idea how much it’s gonna make in the whole world because… there is life outside America, you know? And Tom is big worldwide.

The rest of the world still loves Tom Cruise who is a very admired man abroad. He is huge there and he can continue making movies and being successful abroad as long as he wants.

If I were him I would stop releasing movies in America and I would just make them for the rest of the world because, let’s be honest here, right now America doesn’t deserve somebody as good as Tom Cruise.

I think you journalists should be really ashamed for bullying a celebrity that bad and for trying to destroy him. Isn’t that evil? You should think about what you have done and start writing really good things about him to make up the damage you have caused if you still want to enjoy his movies in America.

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Janey -

This movie was destined to flop. They didn’t need to spend millions of focus groups, they could have just checked Twitter. No one was talking about it. I knew it would flop when I saw the previews. The Killers had a similar plot and also flopped. They can’t all be Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

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sub -

There could be a lot reason why the movie failed but the main reason is most people do not like tom cruise. He needs to work on that.

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Lexi -

They hope he will do better but with Twighlight, The Last Airbender, The Sorecer’s Apprentice, Inception and Salt coming out. I may find it hard to steam if any at all. It came out at the wrong time. They should have opened 3 weeks before Alice in Wonderland. THEN he would have racked up.

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Joxe4 -

I loved Knight a Day. IT was quite a ride, packed with action and fun. The perfect summer pop corn movie. Go see it and enjoy yourself!!

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michele -

Boy, the studio was smart setting the bar so low for Night and Day at $25 million 5 day total. A $125 million dollar big budget studio film and it only makes $27 million over 5 days OUCH, this is NOT a GOOD surprise. I remember all the same critics calling Jennifer Aniston’s movie The Bounty Hunter a flop when it made $21 million on it’s opening weekend and it’s worldwide total for the film is $135 and it cost only $40 million. There is nothing good about the box office for Night and Night domestically, it will need legs and the foreign markets to make it a hit at the box office.

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