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‘Knight and Day’: Tom Cruise Not Responsible for Box Office Misfire?

Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day
Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz in James Mangold’s Knight and Day

June 28 update: “Blame me, don’t blame Tom Cruise. We did lots of focus groups for this film, 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.”

That’s Fox’s co-president of marketing Tony Sella referring to James Mangold’s spy caper Knight and Day, as quoted in Patrick Goldstein’s lengthy article in his Los Angeles Times blog “The Big Picture.”

According to Goldstein, after Knight and Day opened to disappointing figures on Wednesday, many in the media quickly blamed Tom Cruise for the film’s (under)performance.

Within Hollywood circles, however, the blame fell on 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.”

Fingers were also pointed at Sella, who came out to do some finger-pointing (at himself) as well.

One curious Sella remark is that the initial ads for Knight and Day, showing the silhouettes of Tom Cruise and co-star Cameron Diaz, were an homage to Saul Bass, perhaps the best-known “titles designer” ever in the movie business.

Also interesting is that Goldstein – and a number of other writers – keep insisting that Knight and Day is a “belly flop.” But if a movie that has earned $27 million after five days is a “belly flop” whereas one such as Grown Ups, which grossed $40 million over the weekend, is a hit, then what would be considered an “okay” or a “passable” box office performance?

June 28 morning update: Toy Story 3 collected $59.3 million according to weekend box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo.

This was probably the animated feature’s last weekend at the top of the North American chart, as David Slade’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, opens on Wednesday, and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender opens on Thursday.

Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others, comes out two weeks later.

At no. 2, Grown Ups, starring Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider, took in $40.5 million, while the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz vehicle Knight and Day scored $20.1 million.

Fox does have two movies among the top five: in addition to The A-Team, there’s Tom Cruise’s Knight and Day. Unfortunately for the studio, both were costly productions that have underperformed domestically despite their high ranking on this weekend’s box office chart. (Sony, on the other hand, has two movies among the top five – The Karate Kid and Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups – that have performed well above expectations.)

According to, revenues this weekend totaled an estimated $160m, down 20 percent from last year. That was when Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen debuted with $109 million.

Additionally, with $1.7 billion to date, summer revenues are down 5 percent from 2009; attendance is off almost 11 percent.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring idols Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner should remedy that situation when it opens next Wednesday.

June 27 afternoon update: Toplining Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, James Mangold’s spy caper Knight and Day collected $20.5 million at no. 3 this weekend, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Knight and Day averaged a just-passable $6,617 per theater.

For comparison’s sake: Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups averaged $11,702 while Jackie Chan’s The Karate Kid, now on its third weekend, averaged $4,118.

Though not exactly an outright flop at the domestic box office – $27.1 million after five days – Cruise’s Knight and Day is undeniably a box office disappointment chiefly because: a) it’s a Tom Cruise action flick b) its $110-$125 price tag.

Now, comparisons to Cruise’s World War II actioner Valkyrie, which opened with $21 million (not adjusted for inflation) in late December 2008 are unfair because that’s one of the busiest times of the year for movies. Also, Knight and Day had already let off some box office steam by opening on a non-holiday Wednesday.

Some have blamed Knight and Day‘s underwhelming performance on Cruise’s Scientology-related shenanigans a few years ago. If so, audiences overseas haven’t been too concerned about Cruise’s views on postpartum depression or his couch-jumping abilities. (Perhaps international moviegoers don’t watch Oprah?)

Valkyrie grossed $117 million abroad (nearly 60 percent of its take), while Mission Impossible III, during the height of the anti-Cruise furor, took in $263 million (more than two-thirds of its total take).

To date, Knight and Day has scored more than $12 million in 12 markets, including number #1 openings in Russia, Taiwan, and South Korea. Things will improve once it opens in more territories – and especially once the World Cup comes to an end in a couple of weeks.

Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Knight and Day

Unless Sunday estimates have been inflated, Grown Ups took in $41 million – another strong opening for Adam Sandler – as per figures found at Box Office Mojo. (Production cost: approx. $80m.)

For comparison’s sake: Among Sandler’s biggest hits (not adjusted for inflation), Anger Management opened with $42 million, The Longest Yard with $47 million, Click with $40m, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with $34 million, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan with $38 million, and Big Daddy with $41 million.

So, following the recent success of The Karate Kid and Toy Story 3, Grown Ups once again proves that – as pundits asserted just a couple of weeks ago – US audiences are tired of sequels, remakes, and derivative plotlines.

In fact, with Grown Ups, director Dennis Dugan, screenwriters Sandler and Fred Wolf, and stars Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph have given moviegoers the fresh, original, high-quality content they’ve been yearning for.

(As an aside: shouldn’t at least a few critics have mentioned that Grown Ups – which has a 10 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes – has quite a bit in common with Mario Monicelli’s 1975 comedy Amici miei / My Friends, which starred Ugo Tognazzi, Adolfo Celi, and Philippe Noiret?)

It should be noted that the revenues of the vast majority of Sandler’s vehicles are for the most part generated domestically. Sandler could hardly be called a major box office draw abroad. Chances are that won’t change with Grown Ups.

June 27 update: Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 was the top movie at the North American box office for the second weekend in a row, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and others, Toy Story 3 earned an estimated $59 million – 46 percent less than a week ago – for a total of $226.5 million (reported production cost: $200m).

For comparison’s sake, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was also down 46 percent on its second weekend; Iron Man 2 was down nearly 60 percent; and Shrek Forever After was down 38.9 percent.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Toy Story 3‘s 46 percent drop-off rate is the third-highest ever for a Pixar film and the highest for one that opened in the summer.

Alice in Wonderland fared worse than Toy Story 3 during the week, but kids were still in school when the Burton movie came out. Shrek Forever After had a lower drop-off rate, but its initial weekend take was considerably lower than that of Toy Story 3: $70.8 million vs. $110.2 million.

Additionally, Toy Story 3 has to date earned an estimated $100 million overseas for a grand total of $326.5 million.

June 26 update: As expected, Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 maintained its position at the top of the North American box office on Friday, June 25, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and others, Toy Story 3 grossed $18 million (down 56 percent from last Friday).

With $14.5 million at 3,534 theaters, the low-brow comedy Grown Ups had a surprisingly strong first day, averaging 4,103 per theater. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph star.

What’s surprising is that Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups should score $40 million for the weekend (unless bad word of mouth spreads fast) following a much stronger than expected result on Friday. Grown Ups was a movie that many claimed wasn’t “tracking” at all.

Grown Ups reviews have generally been of the sort “lazy, mean-spirited, incoherent, infantile and, above all, witless” – Stephen Holden in the New York Times.

Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, James Mangold’s spy caper Knight and Day earned $6.35 million, averaging a so-so $2,050 per theater. Early estimates had Knight and Day taking in a stronger than expected $7 million on Friday and $20 million for the weekend. So, perhaps Knight and Day‘s weekend predictions will have to be readjusted – again.

Early estimates had Knight and Day grossing around $25 million. After the film underperformed on Wednesday and Thursday, expectations were lowered considerably.

Ultimately, the $125 million (or whereabouts) action-comedy may end up being much less of box office disappointment than one would have expected as recently as this afternoon. Unless, of course, Knight and Day just as unexpectedly sinks within the week.

June 24: Overall, it was a disappointing Wednesday, June 23, at the North American box office.

Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, and others, though down 11 percent, was once again the no. 1 movie, according to Box Office Mojo. Toy Story 3 collected $13.45 million, which placed it well ahead of new entry Knight and Day.

Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day received unenthusiastic reviews from critics and was just as unenthusiastically received by audiences. The comedy-adventure flick grossed $3.81 million at 3,042 sites, or a disappointing $1,253 per theater.

For comparison’s sake, even Miley CyrusThe Last Song, which opened on a Wednesday in late March, earned $5.12 million at 2,673 sites, scoring $1,917 per theater. The Last Song went on to collect $62.5 million domestically. That would be problematic for Knight and Day unless it does exceedingly well overseas (Cruise still has a strong following abroad), as the film’s production costs were in the neighborhood of $125 million.

Those who were expecting Cruise’s latest to take in around $25 million over the weekend will have to readjust their predictions.

Photo: Knight and Day (David James / 20th Century Fox)

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Jenice Burdeshaw -

Me an the kids love this amazing movie. I think they would like this.

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.

John -

Tom, is that you?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!!

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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