Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” is No. 1 at the box office, though it is flying at a lower altitude than expected with $16.4 million grossed on Friday from 4,327 theaters, as studio estimates project a five-day opening of $78 million for Tom Cruise’s seventh round as Ethan Hunt.
Prior to the weekend, projections for “Dead Reckoning” stood at $85-95 million, but the film is instead opening in the same vicinity the $77 million five-day start of “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” in 2018 and slightly below the $82 million five-day start of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” two weekends ago
To be fair, comparisons to those films are not exact, as the five-day start of “Dead Reckoning” stretches from its release this past Wednesday through estimated Sunday grosses, while “Fallout” and “Dial” were Friday–Tuesday totals with “Dial” getting a small Fourth of July boost on Tuesday. But it does show how “Dead Reckoning” is performing more like a “Mission: Impossible” film without any of the boost that was hoped to have come from Cruise’s box office triumph with “Top Gun: Maverick” last year.
On the other hand, “Dead Reckoning” is enjoying much stronger word of mouth than “Indiana Jones 5” with an A on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 96% critics and 94% audience. “Dead Reckoning” has also been reported to have stronger opening days in key overseas markets like South Korea and Great Britain, grossing $82 million internationally through Friday as it is on course for a $240 million global start.
That would be a good start if “Dead Reckoning” was budgeted like past “Mission: Impossible” films, but COVID delays and cost overruns tied to the pandemic pushed the film’s budget close to $300 million, similar to “Dial of Destiny.” The film is now in a position where it will need that strong word of mouth to get it to break even territory with stiff competition from Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” and Universal’s “Oppenheimer” coming next weekend.
Perhaps a factor in the current box office performance of “Dead Reckoning” is the torrid pace being set by Angel Studios’ “Sound of Freedom,” which this weekend has passed A24’s Oscar-winning “Everything Everywhere All at Once” to become the highest grossing independent release in the U.S. since theaters reopened.
According to industry estimates, “Sound of Freedom” is set to add $23 million in its second weekend in theaters, bringing its domestic total to $81.5 million after 13 days in theaters compared to $77.1 million for “Everything Everywhere” through its entire run.
Angel Studios has enjoyed this success thanks to its “Pay It Forward” program, allowing its fervent fanbase to buy up tickets to screenings that can be claimed for free by others. According to its website, over 5.3 million tickets have been contributed by fans through this program, as some affluent conservative fans of the film and its star Jim Caviziel have reportedly bought up entire auditoriums worth of tickets.
Even if many of those tickets go unclaimed and purchased seats go unfilled, those are still ticket sales being pocketed by theaters and by Angel Studios, and it is also quite possible that a portion of the conservative audience that helped lift “Top Gun: Maverick” to a $718 million domestic total through repeat viewings is currently giving its money and attention to “Sound of Freedom” instead of “Mission: Impossible.”