Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission Impossible’ Blows Up Box Office With His Best Debut in a Decade

Paramount’s “Rogue Nation” explodes for $56 million and leaves “Ant-Man” and “Vacation” in the dust

Reports of Tom Cruise‘s demise as an A-list action movie star seem to have been greatly exaggerated.

Powered by the actor’s best opening in a decade, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” exploded for an impressive $56 million at the box office this weekend, blowing past two-time reigning champ “Ant-Man,” the R-rated comedy sequel “Vacation” and analysts’ projections.

It was the best opening for Cruise since 2005’s “War of the World” rolled out with $64 million and the super spy franchise’s best since “Mission Impossible II” debuted to $57 million in 2000. The muscular rollout — $15 million above Paramount Pictures’ projections — left its rivals in the dust, and Sunday the studio confirmed what the opening made obvious — there would be a “Mission: Impossible 6.”

“Vacation,” the weekend’s other wide opener, was a distant second with $14.9 million for Warner Bros. and the Marvel superhero saga “Ant-Man” was third with $12.6 million for Disney.

Directed and scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, “Rogue Nation” rode a wave of strong reviews (93 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes) and moviegoers agreed with critics, awarding it an “A-” CinemaScore. Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin and Ving Rhames co-star. The action extravaganza fell off just four percent from Friday to Saturday, a clear sign of positive word of mouth.

With its over-the-top stunts — like having Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character hanging by his hands from a flying jetliner — and pyrotechnics, “Rogue Nation” was a natural for giant screens and played like it: IMAX accounted for 15 percent of the grosses, with Premium Large Format screens bringing in 13 percent.

That makes the February decision by Paramount executives to shift the action film’s opening from Christmas Day, in part to take advantage of IMAX and PLF screens that will go to Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” over the holiday, look smart. But it wasn’t easy, Megan Colligan, the studio’s president of worldwide distribution and marketing, told TheWrap.

“There were a lot of very seasoned people who told us that we shouldn’t do it because it made the window for the campaign so tight,” she said. “Not everyone would have said OK to that shift at that late date, but the decision to move up the film was the filmmakers’, and (chairman and CEO) Brad Grey and the studio were in it with them all the way.”

“Rogue Nation” brought in $65 million from abroad this weekend — 49 percent better than “Ghost Protocol,” the previous “Mission Impossible” film — so it’s a big win for the studio and David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions, which produced the $150 million action film with J.J. Abrams, Donald Burk and Don Granger.”

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ and analysts had expected more from “Vacation,” a raunchy reboot to the 1983 comedy hit, which opened Wednesday. With Ed Helms and Christina Applegate taking over the Wally World-bound station wagon it took in $21 million over the five days, under the $30 million or more analysts projected.

Tough reviews may have hurt the film, which had a $31 million production budget and featured the original’s stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo as well. The critics have it at 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the moviegoers seemed to agree, giving it a lukewarm “B” CinemaScore.

The fact that women made up 53 percent of the film’s audiences suggest that men stayed away, with some surely lured by “Rogue Nation.” While the under-25 crowd gave the comedy an “A” CinemaScore, they made up just 36 percent of the audience, an indicator that competition from the animated “Minions” and Adam Sandler‘s family film “Pixels” may have hurt as well.

Illumination Entertainment’s “Minions” posted a $12 million fourth week total for fourth place, and is bearing down on $300 million domestically for Universal. It is up to $567 million from overseas and $854 million globally.

“Pixels,” the PG-13 video game comedy from Sony, was fifth with $10.4 million and is up to $45.6 million domestically after two weeks. “Trainwreck” was sixth with $9.6 million and lifted its domestic total to nearly $80 million after three weeks for Universal.

Two second-week films, the Weinstein Company’s Jake Gyllenhaal boxing drama “Southpaw” and Fox’s John Green adaption “Paper Towns,” took in $7.2 million and $4.6 million respectively.

Despite the breakout by “M:I-5,” the overall box office was roughly 23 percent under the comparable frame last year, when Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” debuted with $94 million for Disney.

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