Rarely in recent years has so much audience attention been drawn to three films being released in a single two-week period. Just as “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” (Paramount) arrived, and just before the July 21 openings of “Barbie” (Warner Bros. Discovery) and “Oppenheimer” (Universal), hopes for three separate films change the trajectory for the summer is skyrocketing.
Ahead of the initial reports on the results of “Mission: Impossible” from pre-Wednesday previews, here’s a film-by-film analysis of the opportunities and challenges for each film, as well as their combined potential for theaters.
“Mission: Impossible – Mortal Judgment, Part One”
Two things to note upfront: The pre-marketing cost of this latest sequel has been reported at $290 million, triple that of both of the previous two films in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise. And you may have noticed the marketing? Not cheap either.
Then there are the expectations. Anything short of the biggest movie of the summer (“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” approaches $400 million) or even the year (“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” $574 million) might feel disappointing .
This is unfair and unrealistic. That potential is certainly there, but so are the impediments.
The ongoing appeal of this franchise since 1996 (as well as its consistent quality) is evident. The first two, in third place for their years, achieved the highest score. “Fallout,” the most recent, was eighth for 2018, with an adjusted domestic gross of about $250 million.
This summer has consistently shown that multiple franchise titles have fallen short of high-end expectations (“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is the low point). “Fast X” was a disappointment. Both “Dial of Destiny” and “Fast X” will end up around $150 million, which isn’t acceptable for $300 million or higher cost titles. But could lower resistance to the sequel be a factor here?
Although past films have overcome this problem, “Mission: Impossible” is the first half of a two-part story. This could affect reactions, thanks to an ending that, by all accounts, only whets the appetite for more.
“Mission: Impossible” also addresses the issue of limited playtime in premium theaters, as well as second-weekend competition from “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” A handful of movies this summer (“Spider-Verse,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Elemental”) sustained strong holds, but the norm this year has been rapid declines.
On the plus side, this is initially getting strong reviews (81 Metacritic points at the moment, second best at 86 for “Fallout”) and stems from the goodwill Cruise created with last summer’s smash hit “Top Gun: Maverick.” That alone should help elevate it.
Domestic returns are important, but any response to the film’s box office should be more international, both because of precedents (the previous two films came from less than 30 percent domestic) but also because the foreign share has recently plummeted for some high-profile films. budget (“Dial of Destiny” and “Little Mermaid” were both around 50 percent). Before COVID, “normal” was a movie like this to do two-thirds or more business overseas.
The good news is that “Fast X” was 79 percent. The ‘Mission: Impossible’ films overlap with the ‘Fast’ and James Bond films as established, top-rated action franchises known for spectacular stunts and settings across the globe. “No Time to Die,” likewise, was 79 percent foreign. This means that internal response will be less critical to overall success.
Paramount is pushing all the buttons to maximize the gross. A Wednesday opening, plus three different series of previews that started in a more limited fashion (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) will produce a higher gross than the normal Friday start. And the hope is that the initial positive response makes for a bigger weekend.
“Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”
These are two significant midsummer non-franchise titles, both costing around $100 million, both from previously acclaimed directors, with both hoping to receive positive response from both critics and audiences to push them beyond appeal. pre-release of movies already Have.
Awareness of “Barbie” has been skyrocketing since production was announced. This kind of interest is hard to acclaim. The marketing didn’t falter during its premiere last Sunday.
Like “Oppenheimer”, he faces challenges. It’s not what a four-quadrant movie is (its appeal is initially more feminine). It’s a comedy, with a complicated path to find the right balance.
It also has in Greta Gerwig a director whose ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Little Women’ both exceeded expectations, and Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling to star, and of course familiarity with iconic dolls. And his originality may actually be an asset as audiences become more resistant to retreads.
Christopher Nolan-directed ‘Oppenheimer’ (obviously, a large part of its attraction) has also been in the spotlight since it was announced. As a biopic about a scientist, partially in black and white, 180 minutes, it is not an ordinary summer release.
Nolan cleverly positioned the film as a viewing experience. His previous films have emphasized premium formats, and the curiosity about how the spectacular power of atomic explosions is conveyed in the most advanced technology runs high with this one.
His previous WWII set “Dunkirk,” also released in July, was a hit with adjusted gross of approximately $200 million domestic/$600 million worldwide. It had the benefit of military action (an attraction for older male audiences who rarely go to the movies). The allure of the argument is less clear here. In addition to what promises to be a sensory experience, Nolan’s reputation and expectation of top-notch reviews add interest.
The two films will follow different paths.
“Barbie” could open to double “Oppenheimer” (maybe $100 million to $50 million), but if those are the figures, this is a parallel hit. “Barbie” is expected to have a heavier domestic share, while Nolan has generally hovered close to the foreign two-thirds. “Oppenheimer” is hampered by its length, coupled with strong interest in seeing it on premium screens. This will initially limit seating (similar to “Avatar: The Way of Water”), but assuming it holds interest, it could see a strong multiple. (“Dunkirk” came in at $188 million from a $50 million opening weekend, less burdened by early capping and competition.)
The stakes for the summer and beyond
Theaters need cash in the box and fast. The range of expectations suggested ($300 million domestic for “Mission: Impossible”, $200 million for the other two) should be enough to improve the current situation. Last July saw a domestic gross of $1.134 billion. At those levels, along with other films, $1.2 billion is achievable (best month since 2019).
Both “Mission: Impossible” and “Barbie” have the greatest gains during the months above these levels (“Oppenheimer,” again, perhaps more over a longer period). If either or both outperform and push the total higher, it would be a clear win for theaters.
And the over-performance of ‘Mission: Impossible’ would lend relief that franchise fatigue could be overcome with clever production. For “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” success would encourage more high-end non-franchise films, as well as increased faith in proven creative filmmakers like Nolan and Gerwig.
But there is also the risk that one or more of them will do less than expected. Four years into experiencing the COVID impact, it’s not getting any easier.