Not even Tom Cruise in assless chaps could save Rock of Ages. The movie musical, which stars Cruise as '80s-esque metal rocker Stacee Jaxx, earned a shoddy $15.1 million over the weekend, landing in third place behind the second-weekend efforts of Madagascar 3 and Prometheus. That gross is far less than a Tom Cruise-toplined film is expected to make, and subpar for the genre; similar big-budget summer movie musicals Hairspray and Mamma Mia each each earned $27 million in their opening weekends. Like Johnny Depp and Will Smith, Cruise is often considered one of the last box-office movie stars, with the impressive gross of his recent fourth Mission: Impossible film held up as proof. Does Rock of Ages' disappointing opening mean he's losing his star power?
It's not Tom's fault: Blaming Cruise isn't entirely fair, says Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly. Though he played heavily in the film's promos, his role is relatively minor. Plus, the movie musical is "so far outside his action/drama wheelhouse" you can't rightly compare it to more typical Cruise fare. If anyone is the scapegoat, it's Julianne Hough, who's now flopped for the third consecutive time as the lead of a movie musical, following the failures of Burlesque and Footloose.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
But Cruise is at least partly to blame: Rock of Ages may have been an ensemble film, but Tom Cruise was its headlining star, says Gregory Ellwood at HitFix. That it will go down as one of the worst-performing films of his career is not a good sign. Even Knight and Day, which opened to mediocre reviews and was considered a major flop, grossed over $20 million in its first weekend two years ago.
He'll rebound quickly: Atrocious reviews killed Rock of Ages, not Cruise's involvement, says Contact Music. Either way, the film's flop "is likely to be a mere blip" on the actor's stellar track record. The monster success of Mission: Impossible 4 is still fresh enough, and a slew of imminent action-packed Cruise crime dramas, including the much-talked about Tom Clancy adaptation Jack Reacher (opening this December) and a possible fifth Mission: Impossible film, could help him rebound.
It's Adam Sandler who should be really worried: The embarrassing box office performance of Sandler's new R-rated romp That's My Boy, which came in fifth this weekend with only $13 million, is more surprising than Rock of Ages' flop, says Gabe Toro at Indie Wire. Though poorly reviewed, That's My Boy should have debuted better with Sandler's fanbase. But after Just Go With It and Jack and Jill "earned the ire of his longtime fans," Sandler's proving that "sometimes you lose an audience, and you don't get it back." That's My Boy delivered his worst-performing live-action comedy opening since 1996.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.