Monday, May 08, 2006
CRUISE HEADING FOR A MAJOR CRASH... We did it!
CONGRATS GUYS IT LOOKS LIKE WE DID IT!!
News agencies the world over are reported MI:III is doomed to be a commercial failure, solely because of Tom! Here's an example taken from the NY Times!
New 'Mission'; Opens Weaker Than Expected
LOS ANGELES, May 7 — Paramount Pictures and its leading star, Tom Cruise, failed to live up to expectations this weekend when "Mission: Impossible III" opened to weak numbers at the domestic box office despite a barrage of public appearances by Mr. Cruise to promote the film.
The poor opening followed nearly a year of public mocking of Mr. Cruise, Hollywood's most reliable star and the centerpiece of Paramount's biggest franchise, across the pop culture landscape — by Internet bloggers and late-night comedians and constantly on tabloid covers — after his public, over-the-top wooing of the actress Katie Holmes and his outspoken remarks against psychiatry and antidepressant medications last year.
Opening in 4,054 theaters, "Mission: Impossible III" had estimated ticket sales of $48 million for the weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations, almost $10 million less than the second "Mission: Impossible" movie in 2000, which opened in 385 fewer theaters and at lower ticket prices. Based on market research, the film had been expected to reach about $65 million at the box office.
Many in Hollywood had been watching expectantly to see if the negative publicity surrounding Mr. Cruise would have an effect at the box office, and this weekend — as "Mission: Impossible III" kicked off the film industry's peak summer moviegoing period — it appeared as if it had.
Paramount reported that "Mission: Impossible III" took in $118 million worldwide in 55 countries, doing well in Asia, Latin America and Britain and poorly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where there is public opposition to Mr. Cruise's championing of his religion, Scientology.
But Paramount executives said that Mr. Cruise's public image did not hurt the film. "I don't believe that is a factor in how the movie opened," said Rob Moore, Paramount's president for worldwide marketing, distribution and operations. He noted that the opening domestic figure was close to that of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" last summer, which starred Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and said the "Mission" franchise was struggling against the fact that it had been six years since the previous installment.
Others disagreed, noting that Mr. Cruise personally spearheaded the marketing campaign. He visited four countries in rapid succession ahead of the opening — going to Rome, Paris, London and Mexico City — and on Friday attended four different premieres in Manhattan alone, traveling by helicopter, fire truck, subway and boat in a promotional blitz across the city.
"I can't fault the marketing campaign; I can't fault the trailers," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the box office, adding that the film, directed by J. J. Abrams, received strong reviews. "The only X factor here is the Tom Cruise factor."
The derision of Mr. Cruise began last spring when he embarked on his relationship with Ms. Holmes just as both actors were preparing to release big-budget movies, "War of the Worlds" for Mr. Cruise and "Batman Begins" for Ms. Holmes. The news media and fans expressed skepticism at the public nature of the romance, which intensified even as the formerly private Mr. Cruise increasingly involved Scientology in his business affairs.
Since then, Mr. Cruise has evolved into a kind of cultural punch line. In "Scary Movie 4," which is still in theaters, one scene is a parody of Mr. Cruise's couch-jumping appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last May.
Several reviews of "Mission: Impossible 3" pointed out that Mr. Cruise's public persona had become a distraction when watching him on the big screen. "It's impossible to watch 'M:I-3' without asking: Do we still, you know, like Tom Cruise?" the critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in Entertainment Weekly, while Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times: "It would be a stretch to say that Tom Cruise needs a hit. What this guy needs is an intervention."
In addition to being the kickoff for the summer movie season, "Mission: Impossible III" was the first major release that had been given a green light by Paramount under Brad Grey, who took over as chairman in early 2005. Mr. Grey caused a stir last year when the studio threatened to pull the plug on the movie just ahead of production unless the budget was cut and Mr. Cruise — who is also a producer of the film — cut his fee.
As a result of that stand, the budget was trimmed to $165 million from about $200 million, and Mr. Cruise agreed to take about 25 percent of the movie's gross revenue, several percentage points less than his original deal, according to a senior Paramount executive.
Paramount executives said that exit polls this weekend showed the film's audience to be mainly over 25, adding that they hoped strong word-of-mouth would help drive a younger audience to the film as the summer continued. But market research ahead of the movie's release also showed that Mr. Cruise had lost ground among an important part of his fan base, female moviegoers.
In Hollywood many were left this weekend pondering the future of star power and looking ahead to the next test case, "The Da Vinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, on May 19. As Mr. Dergarabedian put it, "It shows you the importance of the star and their public image."
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