8695 – If you have high hopes for “Mission: Impossible III”, lower those hopes!!

Mission Possible: Bigger Summer B.O.
Last year, Hollywood kicked off its summer season with an Orlando Bloom epic that failed to loom large at the box office. This year, Hollywood is going straight for the heavy artillery: Tom Cruise.
The summer 2006 box office kicks off Friday with a bombardment of Cruise’s Mission: Impossible III on 4,054 screens, the fourth-largest opening ever.
Paul Dergarabedian of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations says a “$60 million-plus [opening] is certainly in the cards” for M:I3. And, truthfully, the actioneer doesn’t need to open that big to represent a big improvement over 2005.
Debuting on the same May weekend last year, the Bloom-led Kingdom of Heaven grossed less than $20 million, which given the bad state of things was enough to give it bragging rights, briefly, as the nation’s No. 1 movie.
Hollywood’s tepid summer of 2005 was an outgrowth of its stone, cold spring. This year, M:I3 arrives as the film industry is riding a winning streak–for six straight weeks, the weekend box office has been up when compared to last year.
Overall, through last Sunday, ticket sales were up 6.75 percent, according to Exhibitor Relations; attendance was up 3.5 percent.
Given that 2005 was such an off year, from beginning to end, an arguably better measuring stick for 2006 is 2004. When stacked up against that blockbuster year, 2006 is holding its own–revenue up 1 percent; attendance down 5 percent, per Exhibitor Relations.
“[The 2006 box office is] not as strong as 2004, but would could be–because that was the year Passion of the Christ was generating all this box office that was unprecedented,” Dergarabedian said.
The summer box office season runs from May through Labor Day weekend. Before this month alone is out, MI:3 will have been joined in theaters by Tom Hanks and The Da Vinci Code, and Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand. Last year, the only May opener that looked like a blockbuster lock on paper was Star Wars: Episode III–Revenge of the Sith. (Madagascar, another May 2005 opener, ended up being a year-end Top 10 film, as well, with a $193.1 million gross.)
“I think it hurt the industry [last year] by not having the big opener in the first weekend in May,” Dergarabedian said.
So far, MI:3 is off on the right foot with critics. As of Friday afternoon, the reviews-tracking had collected 106 notices, and judged that 73 percent of them were positive.
More than one critic reviewed the movie on a summertime sliding scale, with Time’s Richard Corliss noting that MI:3 “accomplishes its mission to run smart variations on dump tropes,” and encouraging the audience to “devour and enjoy.”
And more than one critic saw the movie as a comment on Cruise’s year of jumping on couches. In the LA Weekly, Scott Foundas called Cruise costar Michelle Monaghan the “doe-eyed Katie Holmes surrogate.” In the New York Times, Manohla Dargis called the film “a seriously strange vanity project, as the simpering brunette [Holmes, sorry, Monaghan] is swept into a new world by a dashing operative for a clandestine operation.”
Cruise and the real Holmes took in Thursday night’s Hollywood premiere of MI:3–it was Holmes’ first public appearance since she and Cruise “joyously welcomed” the birth of their first child, Suri, on Apr. 18.
As for Orlando Bloom? He won’t be deployed in a movie this summer until July, when he’ll have Johnny Depp’s back in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.