Cruise's Image Deflated by Unaccomplished 'Mission'

ByABC News
May 8, 2006, 11:19 AM

May 8, 2006 — -- Having a No. 1 film just isn't enough when you're Tom Cruise and you're trying to live up to your own image as Hollywood's most bankable star.

Every film studio professional expected "Mission: Impossible III" to be tops at the box office this weekend -- and it was -- but the $48 million it took at theaters just wasn't enough to call it the blockbuster that would have quelled speculation that the public had grown tired of the 43-year-old star.

"The biggest surprise across the industry and the media seems to be 'Mission: Impossible III' performing below expectations," Brandon Gray, founder of, told ABC Radio.

Six years ago, "Mission: Impossible II" enjoyed a three-day Memorial Day weekend opening of $58 million.

"Adjusted for ticket price inflation, that's closer to $70 million today," Gray said. "And that means 'Mission: Impossible III' represents a 30 percent decrease in actual attendance."

The movie nonetheless vanquished the competition, with the Robin Williams comedy "R.V." coming in second at $11 million. Cruise would not have expected his movie to be the No. 2 opening of the year, behind the animated feature, "Ice Age: The Meltdown," which earned $68 million when it opened a month ago.

Paramount Studios told The Associated Press that it had expectations of a debut in the $50 million range, but it was gratified by the international showing, where it earned $70 million after opening virtually worldwide except Japan and India. The movie did poorly in Germany, where Cruise has historically had a tough time, the studio said.

Cruise, who also serves as a producer for the $160 million film, is being paid in large part on a percentage of the gross. A similar arrangement on the last spy thriller netted the star an estimated $75 million.

Controversy and overexposure in the tabloid media may have hurt Cruise -- who has starred in more than a dozen films that have grossed more than $100 million domestically. In the past, Cruise has also proven popular internationally with "War of the Worlds" and "Mission: Impossible II" earning $591 million and $543 million outside the United States, making them among the highest grossing films ever produced.