Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

‘Mission: Impossible’ Delivers Box Office Summer Dead Reckoning: Sequels Are Making Audiences Wary

Maybe Tom Cruise won’t play Ethan Hunt at 80.

“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” (Paramount) grossed $80 million in five days in the United States and Canada, for a worldwide total of $235 million. That’s money theaters need, and stronger-than-expected Thursday-through-Sunday results lifted the gross by what some thought might be as low as $70 million.

With its A Cinemascore, this looks like a film that might not suffer the dip experienced by many other hundreds of million dollar productions this summer. Less clear is whether it can maintain the stellar longest run of 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” ($61 million three-day opening, $220 million domestic total, $791 million worldwide).

“Barbie”Warner Bros./screenshots

However, “Fallout” was released in late July with minor August competition. Next weekend, “Dead Reckoning” will take on “Barbie” (Warner Bros. Discovery), which is expected to top $100 million, and “Oppenheimer,” which will gross less while taking up nearly all of the premium screens currently occupied by Tom Cruise.

In retrospect, the expectations were too high. “Top Gun: Maverick” saved the box office last year; why couldn’t another Cruise sequel do the same in a summer where other films fell short? Still, “Dead Reckoning” is a prescient title: It’s time for exhibitors and studios to accept that adopting a savior complex isn’t a winning strategy.

Speaking of charges, there’s a $290 million price tag for the seventh “Mission” (significantly elevated by the Covid delays); add significant marketing costs and it’s at least $400 million.

There’s a good chance that the home version of “Dead Reckoning” could be the same as “Fallout”; With the opening of the main market in Japan this week, the worldwide gross could match or surpass its predecessor. Even if that were the case, Cruise won’t have the biggest movie of the summer or even close to it.

(LR): Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate.  ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.  All rights reserved.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

But we’re left with the reckoning: We know there’s a real decline in audiences in general and older viewers in particular; we also know that the “Mission” franchise is weaker at home than abroad, at 30% or less of the total. However, it’s time to suggest that audiences are growing wary of films that go beyond the two sequels.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate” (Disney) will eventually earn about $175 million domestically and less than $400 million worldwide. It would be fine if the film cost $100 million, not triple that. “Fast X” (Universal) finished under $150 million domestic, though the worldwide total is much better than $700 million. (It cost $340 million to produce, plus a massive marketing push).

All of which make next weekend’s answer to “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” both non-franchise titles that promise creativity and originality that matter beyond hoped-for strong sales.

It could also explain the performance of “Sound of Freedom” (Angel). The low-budget orphan child trafficking project starring far-right hero Jim Caviezel grossed a staggering $27 million, up 37% from last weekend. It has grossed over $85 million to date and may be immune to the additional competition. It will gross over $100 million; the only question now is how high could it go ($125 million? $150 million?). It’s a complicated story, but you have to pay attention.

The summer box office remains five percent lower than last year. At this point, any improvement from 2022’s $3.4 billion would be minor. This weekend’s estimated total of $141 million was up $8 million, or 6%, from last year. Without “Sound of Freedom”, it would have been 14% lower.

Next weekend has a chance of $200 million, which would be at least $75 million better than 2022 and leads to the remaining summer where no weekend surpassed $100 million.

Helping again this weekend is the consistent performance of the residuals. Aside from “Sound”‘s surge to #5, “Elemental” (Disney) was only down 13 percent, #6 “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” only down 25 percent. The second weekend of “Insidious: The Red Door” at number 3 is down 61%, “Joyride” (Lionsgate) at number 9 is down 56%. “Indiana Jones” in its third weekend, now No. 4, dropped another 56 percent.

The cast of THEATER CAMP.  Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.  © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.
“Camp Theater” Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Among the specialty openings, the Sundance purchase of Searchlight (reported as $8 million) “Theatre Camp” opened with a traditional run of $270,000, or $45,000 per theater at six New York/Los Angeles theaters. This was higher than expected. Distributors these days know how to elevate these rides with special events (screenings with its writer-directors went ahead this weekend despite the SAG strike, with heavy turnouts reported) and other promotional activities.

This opening will bring much-needed attention to the film as it slowly rolls out over the next two weeks ahead of its projected peak of 600-800 theaters. The expectation is not to stream for at least 60 days.

Christian Petzold’s acclaimed German film “Afire” (Janus/Sideshow), winner of the grand prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, opened to PTA$9,800 on three New York/Los Angeles dates that included appearances by director. It’s about what a top-rated subtitled film can expect these days, and it’s enough to get a high-playing run in the coming weeks.

The documentary “Lakota Nation vs. the United States” (IFC), also with very positive reviews, made a reasonable $8,000 in its exclusive New York debut. Two new, larger releases had modest results. “The Miracle Club” (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Maggie Smith, Laura Linney and Kathy Bates, grossed $680,000 in 678 theaters. Roadside Attractions hockey documentary “Black Ice” managed to raise just $26,225 in 144 theaters. Crunchyroll’s latest anime “Psycho-Pass Providence” managed $211,000 in 419 theaters, while the documentary “Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd” (Abramarama) earned $6,000 on one date in New York.

Top 10

1. Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning: first part (Paramount) – Cinema Score: A; Metacritic: 81; Est. Budget: $290 million

$56,200,000 in 4,327 theaters; PTA (average per theater): $12,988; Cumulative: $80,004,000

2. Sound of freedom (Angel) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$27,000,000 (+37%) in 3,265 theaters (+413); PTA: $8,720; Cumulative: $85,499,000

3. Insidious: The Red Door (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$13,000,000 (-61%) in 3,188 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,078; Cumulative: $58,086,000

4. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$12,000,000 (-56%) in 3,865 (-735) theaters; PTA: $3,105; Cumulative: $145,360,000

5. Elemental (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$8,700,000 (-13%) in 3,235 (-205) theaters; PTA: $2,689; Cumulative: $125,289,000

6. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #5

$6,050,000 (-25%) in 2,577 (-446) theaters; PTA: $2,348; Cumulative: $368,798,000

7. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD

$3,420,000 (-33%) in 2,041 (-434) theaters; PTA: $1,676; Cumulative: $152,765,000

8. No hard feelings (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #7

$1,005,000 (-39%) in 2,053 (-633) theaters; PTA: $1,607; Cumulative: $46,590,000

9. Ride of joy (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$2,575,000 (-56%) in 2,820 theaters (no change); PTA: $913; Cumulative: $10,617,000

10. The Little Mermaid (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #9

$2,350,000 (-36%) in 1,615 (-465) theaters; PTA: $1,455; Cumulative: $293,917,000

Other specialized titles

Movies (limited, limited movie expansions, and award-oriented) are listed by week out, starting with those open this week; after the first two weeks, only films with grossing over $5,000 are listed.

Theatrical field (Searchlight) NEW – Metacritic: 66; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest 2023

$ in 6 rooms; PTA: $45,000

A fire (Janus/Sideshow) NEW – Metacritic: 86; Festivals include: Berlin, Tribeca 2023

$39,200 in 3 theaters; PTA: $9,800

The Miracle Club (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW – Metacritic: 54; Festivals include: Tribeca 2023

$679,976 in 678 theaters; PTA: $1,003

Providence Psycho-Pass (crunchy roll)

$211,000 in 419 theaters; PTA: $504

Lakota nation versus United States (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Tribeca 2022

$8,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $8,000

Do you still have it? (Abramorama)

$6,015 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,015

Black ice (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Metacritic: 80; Festivals include: Toronto 2022

$26,225 in 144 theaters; PTA: $182

City of Asteroids (Focus) Week 5; also on PVOD 1.111

$1,160,000 in 713 (-398) theaters; Cumulative: $26,349,000

Past lives (A24) Week 6 771

$537,882 in 386 (-385) theaters; Cumulative: $9,478,000