2010 Preview: Knight & Day
Release Date: July 2

Studio: Fox

Genre: Comedy

Director: James Mangold

Writer: Patrick O'Neill

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Olivier Martinez, Paul Dano, Marc Blucas, Maggie Grace, Viola Davis

Studio Description: An action-comedy centered on a fugitive couple (Cruise and Diaz) on a glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure where nothing and no one—even themselves—are what they seem. Amid shifting alliances and unexpected betrayals, they race across the globe, with their survival ultimately hinging on the battle of truth vs. trust.

Watch the Trailer

Analysis: For the first half of the last decade, Tom Cruise was unstoppable at the box office, with seven straight pictures grossing $100 million or more. This started and ended with Mission: Impossible movies: Mission: Impossible II grossed $215.4 million in 2000, and Mission: Impossible III grossed $134 million in 2006. Mr. Cruise's public image, though, took a beating while doing publicity for War of the Worlds in 2005: from jumping on Oprah Winfrey's couch to pushing his Scientologist beliefs, Cruise's off-camera eccentricities took center stage. Many in the industry and the media blamed him for the relatively soft showing of Mission: Impossible III, even though the movie's premise and marketing combined with franchise decay were the main reasons. While Lions for Lambs (in which he had a supporting role) didn't take, Valkyrie ($83.1 million) restored some of his glory following his well-received, unbilled comedic turn in Tropic Thunder.

More than anything, a decade of tense, dramatic roles may be what caused audience fatigue and, hence, Tom Cruise's recent box office fade. Shrewdly, Mr. Cruise will finally break up the monotony this summer with Knight & Day, his first action-comedy ever and his first "fun" movie in years in which he plays a spy on the run with likeable co-star Cameron Diaz (who has been most bankable in fun movies). Audiences have generally come out in large numbers for similar movies, as evidenced by Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($186.3 million) and True Lies ($146.3 million in 1994, or the equivalent of over $260 million adjusted for ticket price inflation).

One thing working against Knight & Day, though, is that it is being released on what is perhaps the most competitively scheduled weekend of the year, facing off with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and The Last Airbender. While all three pictures cater to different audiences, it's possible that at least one gets lost in the shuffle, and it's not likely to be Eclipse. Nonetheless, Knight & Day has a great chance at adding to Tom Cruise's list of $100 million hits, but it will need to really distinguish itself in order to reaffirm his status as a top box office force.

Similar Movies: Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mission: Impossible III, Mission: Impossible II, Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Live Free or Die Hard, True Lies

Related Charts: Hitman/Assassin; Comedy-Spy; Showdown: Bond v. Bond v. Other Spies

Related Stories:

'Mission: Impossible III' Doesn't Thrill

'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' Honeymoons at the Top

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2010 Preview