No More Cruise Control Should 'Ghost Protocol' Underperform

This hasn’t been the best of times for A-list movie stars.

First, Adam Sandler’s latest comedy, “Jack and Jill,” failed to measure up to his previous blockbusters. Over the weekend, the star-laden “New Year’s Eve” debuted at number one, but with a final tally of $13 million that few folks found impressive.

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And Will Smith, arguably the most bankable star of his generation, has been MIA of late until the lackluster MIB3 trailer hit the Web today.

That brings us to Tom Cruise, the mega-star with the mega-smile. His latest film, “Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” opens in limited theaters Friday before going wide Dec. 21.

To say there’s plenty riding on the film for Cruise is a Hollywood-sized understatement. Should “Ghost Protocol” falter at the box office, it’ll be all the evidence needed that Cruise is no longer a box office draw.

One could argue we already got that proof with the 2010 actioner “Knight and Day.” an underrated spy caper which failed to crack the golden $100 million mark. But that film offered an original story that didn’t have any franchise tie-ins to goose ticket sales. The new “M:I” won’t have such excuses. Plus, this new “Mission” features red-hot actor Jeremy Renner along with rising star Paula Patton. The best asset Cruise has may be Brad Bird, the Pixar director making his live-action feature debut with “Ghost Protocol.”

It’s been ages, in pop culture chronology, since Cruise jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch. We’ve long since moved on from that ridiculous sight. What Cruise is up against now is far more formidable – the notion that audiences have simply moved on to other actors.

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