Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Will Be Fine, Because The Rest Of The Year Is Low On Movies

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One had a great worldwide opening, before promptly getting swept off the board by the combined box office might of Barbie and Oppenheimer.


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In its second weekend, the Tom Cruise action film got bumped down to third in the United States and worldwide. The stat that has some fans sweating is that it dropped 65 percent domestically. That’s the worst ever for the series, and put Dead Reckoning neck-and-neck of Jim Caviezel’s QAnon fever dream, Sound of Freedom. That’s not great, and given the film’s puffed-up pandemic-era price tag of $290 million, it’s understandable to expect it to struggle like the summer’s other big-budget adventure movie, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

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But that seems incredibly unlikely for a number of reasons. If you’ve paid attention to the surprise box office turnaround that Disney and Pixar’s Elemental has experienced, it should be clear that Dead Reckoning’s rocky start isn’t the full story. Elemental suffered the second worst opening for a Pixar movie ever, but has steadily made money in the month since. Its global total now stands at $359.3 million. That success is largely down to the fact that it got decent word of mouth and was the only kids movie in theaters for parents who had already seen Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which opened two weeks earlier. The absence of new films for the target audience (and the complete collapse of competitor Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken) has allowed Elemental to keep on chugging.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One
Via Paramount Pictures.

The rest of the summer calendar gives Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning the opportunity to do the same thing. There just aren’t many wide releases coming out that seem to have much juice. This weekend will see the launch of Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which seems to lack any real interest, certainly not enough to justify its reported $157.8 million budget. Blue Beetle, the only superhero movie releasing in August, is tracking for a $12-17 million domestic opening weekend from the 18th through the 20th, which would be cataclysmic for a film priced at $120 million. Meg 2 is launching on August 3, and could be a big hit like its predecessor, but so far hasn’t seemed to have received much of a marketing push. And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem looks good, but will eat into the continued success of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Elemental, not more adult fare like Mission: Impossible.

In short, the box office seems primed for a month of holdover successes. Barbie and Oppenheimer will keep hoovering up money, but so will Dead Reckoning. One bad weekend — especially a weekend where it was facing off against the much-hyped movie event of the summer — doesn’t mean the movie won’t have long-term legs. Considering the series’ history of holding strong and the competition it was facing, it isn’t necessarily that bad a weekend. Both Oppenheimer and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 are targeting an older male demographic. There isn’t much targeting the same demographic for the next few months, and even if there was, their stars can’t promote them due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. Dead Reckoning, Barbie, and Oppenheimer have the benefit of being the last films to get in under the wire before the strikes put an end to that crucial element of marketing.

And Mission: Impossible will be in theaters for at least a few more months. In 2021, Paramount announced that Dead Reckoning would head to Paramount Plus after only 45 days in theaters. Tom Cruise was reportedly angry and lawyered up. Though there was never official word on who won that fight, the longevity of Top Gun: Maverick and the fact that Cruise has allowed Mission: Impossible 7 to be released at all seems to indicate that Cruise got his customary 90-day window. Given Dead Reckoning’s July 11 release, that would mean that the earliest it can possibly hit streaming is the second week of October. Dead Reckoning will have plenty of time to make its money back, few new competitors standing in its way, and an A CinemaScore which indicates great word of mouth. Its domestic weekend wasn’t especially good, but it still netted $55 million internationally, while adding new territories like Japan, where it was the number one movie and outperformed its predecessor, Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt looking over a cliff on a motorcycle in Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One
Via Paramount Pictures.

Dead Reckoning ended up with a tough release window, sandwiched between an extremely busy June (which saw the releases of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, The Flash, Elemental, and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts among others) and the Barbenheimer phenomenon. It was a mistake on Paramount’s part to stick to that date, but now that Barbenheimers bombastic opening weekend is in the rearview mirror, we can get a real look at whether Dead Reckoning has legs. I bet it does.

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