Box Office: ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ is Tom Cruise’s 19th movie to open no. 1

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” earned $56 million domestically this weekend to easily beat another newcomer, “Vacation,” for the top spot.  While Paramount and the film's major financier, Skydance, have to wonder why it didn't open bigger after rave reviews and an A- Cinemascore rating it could have been much worse.  Pre-release polling from some services were as low as a $42-50 million debut.  For comparison's sake, “M:I-2” debuted to $57 million 15 years ago.  With an estimated production budget of $150 million, “Rogue Nation” will have to fare much better overseas and it's off to a great start with $65 million internationally so far.

As for Cruise, you could technically say this is his 20th no. 1 opener, but he wasn't even mentioned in the “Tropic Thunder” billing block or top credits (i.e., his name appears nowhere on the poster) and when you're going to track these things, well, that matters.  The 53-year-old actor has clearly had his ups and downs, but the “Mission” franchise continues to give his career new life. “Rogue Nation” has significant competition with “Fantastic Four” opening on Friday, but Cruise's fan base is mostly over 25 and they don't always rush to the theater opening weekend.

The rest of the top five were far behind.  The aforementioned “Vacation” arrived at no. 2 with $14.8 million over the three-day and $21.1 million since opening on Wednesday.  Warner Bros. will likely break even on the $31 million comedy, but it won't be the moneymaker they were hoping for when they moved its release date from October to the middle of the summer.

“Ant-Man” dropped to no. 3 with another $12.6 million and $132.1 million to date.  Marvel Studios latest should surpass “The Incredible Hulk's” $134.8 million gross on Monday or Tuesday and eventually surpass $150 million domestically.  Considering the behind-the-scenes drama and marketing challenges “Ant-Man” endured Marvel and Disney are no doubt relieved with the $291.6 million global tally so far.

Universal Pictures' “Minions” took fourth with $12.2 million and $287.3 million domestically.  The “Despicable Me” spin-off should cross $300 million sometime next weekend.  It will become the fifth film in 2015 to hit that mark and potential blockbusters such as “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 2” and “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” are still on the horizon.  That's quite a turnaround from 2014 when Hollywood found only three films released that year earned $300 million.

“Pixels” rounded out the top five with $10.4 million and $45.6 million in just 10 days.  The Chris Columbus action comedy dropped 56.7% from its opening weekend and is already one of the biggest box office disappointments of the summer.

Notable in limited release, Sundance drama “The End of the Tour” with Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg took in $126,000 in just 4 theaters for a superb $31,500 per screen.

New films opening on Friday include “Fantastic Four,” “Ricki and the Flash,” “Shaun the Sheep Movie” and “The Gift.”

Box Office actuals are released on Monday.

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