Weekend Report: 5th 'Mission' Phenomenal
Powered by the Energizer bunny energy of the seemingly inexhaustible Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation pulled in $56M for the weekend, taking #1 at the box office. It's a good start for the $150M, fifth installment in the now-rejuvenated M:I series that seems to be have been carried, uphill, on Cruise's back.

The success of the film also adds a counter-example to the "Where Are the Box-Office Stars??" articles queued up at entertainment outlets everywhere.

Just last week Adam Sandler's Pixels, with a tepid $24M opening, prompted numerous "Is He Over?" articles, questioning the box-office virility of the once critic-proof star.

On the Fourth of July weekend Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator Genisys drug itself to $27M, coming in third behind an animated Pixar movie in its third week and a dinosaur movie in its fourth week. Genisys continues to struggle with a domestic take of $87M.

Cruise, however, reversed that trend and did so, seemingly, by himself. At NATO's Cinema-Con, in April, both Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the stage to promote their respective films for Paramount. Cruise gave a sneak peek of an extended clip from Rogue Nation, showing him being strapped to that A-400 airplane and doing the insanely dangerous stunt eight times until they got it right. Then Paramount showed an extended, equally risky, driving sequence from the film where Cruise, with Simon Pegg attesting, was actually at the wheel. It was one of the highlights of the conference and left the theater owners and the press buzzing.

Ironically one of the other highlights from Cinema-Con was the red-band trailer that Warner Bros. unveiled for Vacation, the reboot of the 1983 hit, starring Ed Helms and Christina Applegate. Suddenly, a superfluous (some would have said sacrilegious) remake had an entire audience of hardened theater owners and press howling. Vacation, based on that limited glimpse, looked like a potential summer sleeper hit along the lines of Ted or The Hangover.

Once critics saw it, however, all the well-edited trailers in the world couldn't save it. Original estimates for the weekend ranged from $27M - $30M. The film will be lucky if it makes half that and crosses $15M.

A24's The End of the Tour had a strong start in limited release making $31,615 on four screens for a $126,459 weekend. If it can continue to perform next week when it opens in other major markets, and can keep its momentum going through August, it bodes well for Jason Segel. His nuanced performance as author David Foster Wallace should be a contender for a Gold Derby Best Actor slot, which could carry the film into awards season, if the film can prove it also captured the indie summer crowd.

In holdover news Pixels took a 56.7% drop to a $10.4M weekend. That's nothing, however, to the 63.6% drop off of Paper Towns to a $4.6M weekend. More people probably watched star Cara Delevingne fend off those snarky Good Day Sacramento hosts than saw the film the last three days.

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This Weekend in Past Years:

• 2014 - Weekend Report: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Obliterates August Record

• 2013 - '2 Guns' Takes Top Spot, 'Smurfs' Struggles

• 2012 - 'Dark Knight' Beats Up 'Recall' Redux

• 2011 - Hail the Conquering 'Apes'• 2010 - 'Other Guys' Arrest Audiences, 'Step Up' Gets Served, 'Inception' Lingers

• 2009 - 'G.I. Joe' Doesn't Roll Snake Eyes

• 2008 - 'Dark Knight' Soars Past $400 Million

• 2007 - 'Bourne Ultimatum' Accepted

• 2006 - 'Talladega Nights' Goes Fast to No. 1

• 2005 - 'Dukes' Charge the Top Spot, Emperors 'March' On

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