Given his age and the tough year he's had in the tabloids, is Tom Cruise still a go-to guy when Hollywood is looking for an action hero?
The answer is yes, based on the performance of his current movie, Paramount's "Jack Reacher." It's taken in $45 million in the 10 days since opening with $15.6 million in a very crowded and competitive holiday market. Its second week was a solid $14 million, and it's added $22 million from overseas.
Holiday movies tend to have legs and "Reacher" has yet to roll out in the majority of major foreign territories, so both of those numbers, particularly the international, will be growing. All signs point to it surpassing $200 million at the worldwide box office. That's not a blockbuster figure, and Paramount is staying mum on a sequel, but with a $60 million budget, "Jack Reacher" will make money for Paramount.
There were questions coming in. With his divorce from Katie Holmes and subsequent custody battle, Cruise is carrying plenty of public relations baggage. His foray earlier this year into musicals with "Rock of Ages" was critically applauded but proved a box-office dud. That's on top of his well-known support for Scientology.
He's 50 now, which might be the new 40 in the real world, but is starting to get on in years in the realm of action heroes. Daniel Craig is 44. Jeremy Renner is 41. We are a long way from "Top Gun" — that was 1986 — so it probably won't be too, too long until "The Expendables" franchise comes calling for Cruise.
But in the meantime, "Reacher" is going to be profitable for Paramount and Cruise's portrayal of the tough, ex-military drifter has drawn critical kudos, so there's a bit of momentum now. And it's clear from his upcoming schedule that Hollywood is still convinced he can carry an action film.
Next for Cruise will be two sci-fi movies: Universal's "Oblivion" is due in April and "All You Need is Kill" is set for March 2014 from Warner Bros. After that, there's a potential "Van Helsing" remake at Universal and "Mission: Impossible 5" is on Paramount's 2015 slate.
His recent track record at the box office, particularly when you look at his performance in the action genre, suggests the studios are making a pretty good bet.
"Rock of Ages" may have crumpled, but "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" was a huge hit for Paramount, taking in nearly $700 million worldwide in 2011. "Knight & Day," from Fox in 2010, and "Valkyrie," from United Artists in 2008, both made over $200 million worldwide.
Supporting roles in "Tropic Thunder" and "Lions for Lambs" preceded those, but those came on the heels of two Paramount movies: "Mission Impossible 3," which made nearly $400 million worldwide in 2006, and "War of the Worlds," which did $592 million in the previous year.
The bottom line: Hollywood is still convinced you can still take Tom Cruise, movie action hero, to the bank.
Liza Foreman contributed to this report.