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Can ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Ride Critical Acclaim to Box Office Success?

Paramount needs the long-running Tom Cruise franchise to deliver … fortunately, the critics say it’s an action classic

This year has already seen a marked improvement for Paramount over 2017, with “A Quiet Place” becoming the studio’s biggest hit in nearly two years. But now the studio will send in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” as its big tentpole release for the year this weekend, and it does so on a wave of rave reviews for Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise’s latest action film.

Other long-running franchises such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” have seen the law of diminishing returns set in, but “M:I” seems to be getting stronger as it and its lead star age, with “Fallout” holding a 97 percent “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes as critics call it the best action film since “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

“Tom Cruise hasn’t always had the box office success in recent years as he had in the ’80s and ’90s,” said comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian. “But ‘Mission: Impossible’ has brought out the best in him and fans have responded. Even though we’ve had male-oriented action films come out the last two weeks with ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘Equalizer 2’ in the last couple weeks, that shouldn’t get in the way of this film considering that, if the reviews are any indication, ‘Fallout’ has the goods.”

And it couldn’t come at a better time for Paramount, as this is the first “M:I” film released under CEO Jim Gianopulos as he works to recover the studio’s plummeting box office numbers. While the Melrose studio only has a five percent market share so far this year with $346.5 million grossed domestically, “Fallout” and other major releases like “Bumblebee” and “Overlord” should push annual totals past the mere $534 million Paramount made last year, by far its worst performance since the turn of the century.

The last film in the “M:I” franchise — 2015’s “Rogue Nation” — grossed $682 million worldwide with $195 million domestic and an opening weekend of $55.5 million. Paramount is expecting a similar opening weekend for “Fallout,” with studio projections in the $50 million range against a budget of $178 million. But analysts are more optimistic, projecting a start in the $60 million range. That would be the best opening for the franchise, breaking the $57 million record made by “Mission: Impossible II” way back in 2000.

But it should be noted that when adjusted for inflation, the opening for “Mission: Impossible II” sits at just under $100 million, with an adjusted domestic run of $370 million. So while “Mission: Impossible” is still performing well for Paramount, it’s clearly taken a backseat on the current action movie franchise scene to the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Box office analyst Shawn Robbins notes that this is likely because that car-toting series sports stars like Dwayne Johnson who are more popular with millennials, while the 55-year-old Cruise holds clout with older audiences.

“When you include the TV show the films are based on, ‘Mission: Impossible’ is over 40 years old, and the first film came out 22 years ago, so it’s definitely a bigger film for the Gen X crowd,” Robbins said. “But while the average age for this film will probably be higher than ‘Fast & Furious,’ millennials are going to show up to a good summer blockbuster, so all signs are pointing to a good result here for Paramount.”

“Mission: Impossible — Fallout” sees Cruise return as Ethan Hunt as his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) and some old allies (Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan) team up after a failed mission causes “Rogue Nation” villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) to escape custody.

Determined to complete his original mission, Ethan’s determination makes the CIA question his motives, forcing him and his team to save the world as both villains and a CIA assassin (Henry Cavill) track him. McQuarrie wrote and directed the film, which also stars Angela Bassett.

While Paramount swings for the fences, Warner Bros. will look for low-budget franchise success with “Teen Titans Go! To The Movies,” based on the hit Cartoon Network/DC series. Early reviews have praised the manic animated film as the kids answer to “Deadpool,” with rapid-fire, fourth-wall breaking references to both DC and Marvel’s superhero movie past. With a reported budget of $10 million, WB is expected to make an easy profit off this film as trackers project a $15 million opening off of the show’s fanbase.

“Teen Titans Go! To The Movies” stars the show’s voice cast as Robin and the DC superhero team, along with Will Arnett as the supervillain Slade with Nicolas Cage and Jimmy Kimmel playing Superman and Batman in cameo roles. Showrunner Aaron Hovarth wrote and directed the film, with series producer Peter Rida Michail co-directing and co-showrunner Michael Jelenic co-writing.