Box Office: ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ squashes ‘Ant-Man’ for no. 1 Friday

After stellar reviews from critics and moviegoers you'd think executives at Paramount Pictures and Skydance would be jumping for joy over the fact that “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opened to $20.4 million on Friday. In reality they are likely breathing a sigh of relief.

The fifth installment in the “Mission: Impossible” movie franchise opened to no. 1 with one of the biggest single day tallies of Tom Cruise's career.  The problem is that the Christopher McQuarrie helmed thriller was expected to do more.  Barring an unexpected Saturday jump (or decline), “Rogue Nation” should end up with $54-55 million for the three-day.  A few weeks ago the studio and the film's major financier were expecting a $60 million plus debut.  Want a scary comparison?  In 2000 “M:I-2” debuted to $57 million. At the time it was the no. 3 opening of all-time.  While the brand has certainly remained resilient, how can a film that is arguably the best of the franchise open without more of a bang domestically?  Is it Cruise? Was it the marketing? Perhaps that's a question for Monday.

This weekend's other new release, “Vacation,” fared far worse.  Warner Bros. believed they had a late summer comedy hit on their hands, but after just $4.5 million on Friday the studio will likely be hoping to just break even.  “Vacation” has earned $10.8 million since opening on Wednesday and has a reported $31 million production budget.

As for the rest of the top five, “Ant-Man” dropped to third with $3.62 million and $123.1 million so far.  The Marvel Studios release should finish the weekend close to “The Incredible Hulk's” $134.8 million cume and with a lot of Pym particles still in the tank.

“Minions” landed in fourth with another $3.6 million and $278.7 million to date.  The “Despicable Me” spin-off should easily pass $300 million, but will be hard pressed to match “Despicable Me 2's” $368 million domestic take from two years ago.

“Pixels” dropped from no. 2 to no. 5 earning $3.1 million and $38.3 million in just eight days. The Sony Pictures will have to substantially over perform internationally to make up its reported $88 million budget.

Look for final weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.

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