Tom Cruise's latest sci-fi action movie, Edge of Tomorrow, is getting fantastic reviews, but it has a weak box office forecast. What gives? Is it doomed to be underrated, at least here in America?
The Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz wrote today that the movie, which stars Cruise and Emily Bunt, is "poised to be Hollywood’s first big budget flop of the summer." Doug Liman's film, in which Cruise's character is forced to live the same day battling aliens over and over again, cost $178 million, making a predicted box office haul in the $20 to $30 million range look pretty paltry. Fritz credits two reasons for its potential for an underwhelming gross: the fact that it is not a sequel or part of a franchise and the fact that it stars Tom Cruise. Another potential stumbling block: it's going up against The Fault in Our Stars. Variety's Brent Lang is giving an "edge" to Fault, which has a "crack social media campaign," and will "almost certainly double or triple its $12 million production cost in a single weekend."
But what about those great reviews? Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations Co. told The Wire that Edge of Tomorrow's "prospects have been rising in the last couple of weeks," after box office sages lowballed its opening numbers initially. Bock now thinks it will open in the low- to mid-$30 million rage Meanwhile, Managing Editor of IMDb Keith Simanton told us that he estimates a $35 million or higher opening weekend, with the "inordinately good" word of mouth going around.
Still, consensus in the press remains that the movie is going to have to do well overseas, where it has already opened, to be considered a success with its budget. Even that's not a sure thing. The movie only raked in $20 million in its opening in 28 markets last weekend, struggling up against Maleficent and Days of Future Past. At least it is doing well in South Korea.
"I think part of it is Tom Cruise has sort of lost his luster at least domestically," Bock told us, adding later: "I think there comes a time when star power just fades." Cruise's last big hit domestically was 2011's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which brought in $209.4 million, but that had the franchise aspect that Edge of Tomorrow does not, making the new film harder to market. Cruise's last two action movies, Jack Reacher and Oblivion didn't break $90 million domestically. (The less said about his musical Rock of Ages, the better.) For what it's worth, Simanton doesn't think that Cruise is "done," adding: "in some weird ways, he's in this kind of Charlton Heston sci-fi phase."
What's unfortunate for Edge of Tomorrow is that a summer blockbuster has to have a strong opening weekend to have any chance of sustaining itself, Bock explained. Next weekend it will face off against the sequels 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2. "Sci-fi is not known for having a very long life at the box office," Bock said.