Between Jack Reacher, This Is 40, Django Unchained, and Les Miserables, this holiday season is jam-packed with films vying for the crucial adult audience. Considering the male-leaning subject matters, Django (which is receiving stellar reviews thus far) may ultimately be the biggest concern to Tom Cruise's latest thriller, Jack Reacher. With no other action-driven film targeted mainly for adults having released since November 9's Skyfall, the question is will Reacher be able to deliver?
Judging by social media buzz, the signs aren't as encouraging as Paramount would probably like for them to be. As of Wednesday morning, the film carried a solid 95 percent "want to see" score on Flixster ... but that's the good news. The bad news is that it was coming from only 10,063 voters. By comparison, Skyfall had nearly 40,000 on the day before release and The Bourne Legacy carried a (very misleading) 110,664 votes (but a mere 85 percent "want to see" tally).
Over on Twitter, the news is more of the same. While Reacher is pacing nearly three times ahead of Brad Pitt's Killing Them Softly in Twitter activity, it has less than 25 percent of the activity of last December's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol before its IMAX release. In fact, Jack Reacher is currently just barely ahead of Knight and Day's Twitter buzz levels.
Given the facts that films tend to have smaller opening weekends and longer legs around Christmastime, and more importantly the reality that Jack Reacher isn't an established movie franchise like Bond and Bourne are, the film is going to completely rely on Cruise's presence whereas those films were mostly driven by the character brand itself (though Craig certainly was a factor in the anticipation for Skyfall).
There's good news, though: reviews are mostly positive so far (a modest 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes currently) and even if the film doesn't open to the $20.1 million that Knight and Day hit back in summer 2010, the holiday season means a chance for word of mouth to spread and legs to build (a factor that drove Ghost Protocol). In addition, the book series which the film is based on does have its fair share of readers (but so did Alex Cross...). Combining that with a high profile name in Cruise alongside solid marketing could give the flick an added appeal among those who have already seen Skyfall several times since its release and are looking for something more "popcorn" and less "Oscar bait".
Expectations should be kept in check, though. Remember, Cruise's biggest opening weekend since 2006 outside of the Mission: Impossible franchise was Valkyrie's $21 million. The World War II thriller opened on Christmas Day in 2008 and was generally regarded as a successful but modest domestic performance at the time. That film went on to gross more than $83 million in North America and $200 million worldwide.
The aforementioned Knight and Day tallied $76.4 million during its domestic run, and $262.4 million around the globe. Again, considering the high $175 million combined (production plus marketing) budget on the film, that was a disappointing run on the domestic side of things.
Cruise's favor among the public - particularly in America, it seems - has wobbled over the years. While still a highly regarded and appealing actor, his headline-making personal life (whether you agree or disagree with his stances) has had some negative effects on his box office stature dating all the way back to 2006's Mission: Impossible III. Despite good early buzz and its position as the summer kick-off, the second sequel opened to a decent-but-underwhelming $47.7 million in May that year.
Lately, Cruise has been back in the public eye due to his divorce from Katie Holmes, so the question now becomes whether or not audiences will care or look past the negativity this time. With Jack Reacher, Cruise is in the type of action-driven role that could result in the latter taking place. If it does, then with solid word of mouth over the next few weeks he may have a budding new franchise on his hands.
If anything, the super success of last year's $693 million global run for Ghost Protocol proves just how adept Tom Cruise is at reinventing his stardom. While the potential of Cruise should never be too underestimated, the Boxoffice.com team is staying conservative and predicting a $13 million opening (a deflated number due to the close proximity to Christmas) for Jack Reacher followed by a leggy run outward to $70 million domestically. Should Cruise's overseas appeal maintain the status quo, a run for $200 million or more worldwide isn't out of the question.
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