Right about now, one may feel the urge to riff on a Cole Porter tune: "Knight & Day, you aren't the one."
Ranking second for the day behind Toy Story 3's massive $13.5 million, Knight & Day landed with $3.8 million on approximately 4,100 screens at 3,042 locations on Wednesday. That was the least-attended opening day for an action-oriented Tom Cruise vehicle since his first, Legend in 1986, and it was his lowest-grossing first day in a leading role since Far and Away in 1992 (though that picture had greater attendance).
Mr. Cruise's last starring role, Valkyrie, made $8.5 million on its Thursday opening, although that was a Christmas day debut. His previous Wednesday launch was for War of the Worlds, which took off with $21.3 million five years ago, while the one before that, Mission: Impossible II, opened to $12.5 million (and the disparity only magnifies in terms of attendance). The last movie starring Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Vanilla Sky, generated $8.9 million on its opening day (a Friday).
It's not exactly apples-to-apples to compare Friday debuts to Wednesday ones for this type of movie, but the similar Killers grossed $5.7 million on its Friday opening day earlier this month. Other Wednesday opening comparisons include Tropic Thunder ($6.5 million) and Live Free or Die Hard ($9.1 million on June 27, 2007).
It's too early to write off Knight & Day just yet. Since it's not a sequel or a fan boy affair and it probably appeals mostly to adults, it's possible that its audience may not show up in force until the weekend. Awareness of the movie's Wednesday launch may have been relatively low, due to distributor 20th Century Fox's last-minute decision to shift to Wednesday after the picture had already been heavily marketed for Friday, June 25. Fox made the change on June 7.