Warner Bros., Tom Cruise Gear Up to Make Sure ‘Tomorrow’ Never Dies

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow” might be one of Tom Cruise’s better films in recent memory but will audiences show up to see it? Warner Bros., the film’s distributor, hopes so, despite the worrisome lack of buzz as the sci-fi movie nears its June 6 opening.

Director Doug Liman makes his first big foray into a visual effects-heavy tentpole, while Emily Blunt delivers her action debut in the futuristic thriller, which follows Maj. William Cage (Cruise), an untrained solider who finds himself reliving the same day again and again in the hopes of sorting out a way to successfully defeat the alien race that has taken Earth hostage.

But Warners will have to move fast to ramp up advertising and communicate to audiences that they’re in for an action-packed ride.

“Nobody really knows what this film is,” said Doug Creutz, senior media and entertainment analyst for Cowen & Co. “There isn’t a huge amount of action competition and there’s room for a film like this this summer, and yet there’s no buzz.”

This week, pre-release tracking numbers dropped $5 million from last week, suggesting that “Edge of Tomorrow’s” opening weekend debut would be in the $25 million range, a dismal opening for any studio tentpole. The pricey pic, co-financed by Village Roadshow, cost between $175 and $200 million, meaning that in order to turn a profit, the film will have to make at least double that worldwide.

Based on a Japanese military-centric science fiction graphic novel entitled “All You Need is Kill,” the studio made the switch to the title “Edge of Tomorrow” nearly a year after the project was announced, in part because “there was a lot of negative chatter about having a movie with the word ‘kill’ in the title,” Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. president, worldwide marketing and international distribution, told Variety. The studio introduced the new title at San Diego Comic-Con 2013.

Kroll admits that “The Fault in Our Stars,“ Fox’s $12 million adaptation of the bestselling novel which shares the release date with “Edge of Tomorrow,” is a “social phenomenon,” but emphasizes that “Edge” still has plenty of potential. The studio is sending Cruise to three different premieres–Paris, London and New York–in one day (May 28), tying in with the film’s tagline, “Live. Die. Repeat.”

“We will definitely be biting our nails for the next few weeks,” Kroll said, addressing the challenges of marketing an original title in a summer packed with sequels. “We’ve been in this situation before and we know it’s going to be tough, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

According to Kroll, 80 percent of the paid media for the film has yet to be released. With several television season finales and both the NHL and NBA playoffs in full swing, she is confident that the studio’s message can get through and strongly emphasizes that pre-release tracking is just one factor.

“I think it is absolutely irresponsible and disrespectful and destructive; a lot of movies have had this kind of tracking at the outset,” Kroll said, listing “Inception” and “Gravity,” (which grossed an impressive $716 million and $825 million worldwide, respectively) as having been in similar situations. “I don’t think people have made up their mind about the film,” she added.

While “The Fault in Our Stars” will play strongly to under-25 women, “Tomorrow” could be effective counterprogramming as it is largely targeted toward an older crowd, at least in the U.S. where Cruise’s appeal seems to be waning. Warners is running twice the typical amount of test screenings both domestically and internationally, spread over three rounds. Creating a “worldwide sensibility,” according to Kroll, the studio is maintaining the same marketing message in both domestic and overseas materials.

Although some early critics have positioned the film as a repetitive “Groundhog Day”-esque picture, there’s a shrewd subtext that could attract audiences looking for an action film that travels beyond the typical alien invasion theme.

The film will open the weekend of May 30, a week before the U.S., in more than 30 countries including the U.K. and Brazil. Throughout Asia, Cruise is still a “huge success,” said Kroll, and the studio will lean on his star power in the lead-up to release.

In fact, Cruise has become more of an international star than a domestic one over the past few years — his recent action pics “Oblivion” and “Jack Reacher,” were both domestic disappointments, and made well over half their respective $286 million and $218 million worldwide grosses from the international box office.

Moviegoers right now are focused more on upcoming titles “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Maleficent,” according to Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

“This film isn’t shaping up to be a massive hit, but it could also be a little too early for a movie like this,” he said about “Edge of Tomorrow.”

Although there’s currently not a lot of buzz around the release, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, believes the film will pick up speed closer to opening day. “It makes sense that Warner’s would not want to dilute the waters with their own film,” he said, pointing out that the studio is focusing right now on rolling out the monstrous “Godzilla,” which targets a similar audience.

With a $196 million worldwide opening weekend and the largest domestic opening day of 2014 ($38.5 million), “Godzilla” is also helping to sell “Edge of Tomorrow.” The studio created a newly-enhanced IMAX trailer which it dropped in front of “Godzilla.”

“It’s tough out there,” said Kroll, “Now it’s time to go to work.”

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  1. Sally says:

    The film was great. Exactly what a Summer movie should be. Entertaining, suspenseful, with even a flair of comic relief at times. People will see it. People will love it.

  2. grathuln says:

    I will not being going to see “Tomorrow Never Dies” because of Tom Cruise: Scientologist. Last film I saw Tom in was War of the Worlds and that sucked. Haven’t missed seeing him.

    • flyoverland says:

      Wow, enlightening. This one goes out to Mark Headley too…

      So deciding what to see based on bias against the private lives of artists, not based on their work, is OK in Hollywood? Is that it? That’s a fresh perspective.

      So, can America follow Hollywood’s example? ‘Cuz you know, that could really affect a lot of people in Hollywood, at the bread and butter level, if America were encouraged to follow suit.

  3. Suzane Carter says:

    we all are wait for tom cruise upcoming movie Tomorrow Never Dies, well i saw a trailer of that movie i give him review about 10/10 let see everyone likes it or not ….. http://bit.ly/1neZexD

  4. Is it true that Cruise only makes movies that are not in conflict with some aspect of his Scientology mind-set? And of course getting the approval from its head honcho?

    • flyoverland says:

      I don’t know, but do you suppose Leo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Alan Cummings, Ian McKellan, Ben Affleck, and others who are vocal about their beliefs make movies that conflict with some aspect of their philosophies? Do they have to take it to Sierra Club or GLAAD or Democrat National Committee to get approval?

      Point being, does it matter? Who doesn’t make movies that align with what they think is right, true, and admirable?

  5. flyoverland says:

    “People” who pay to see movies love Tom Cruise movies — while entertainment blogsnobs, myopic fanboys, and film critics loathe him and therefore his work. I’m not fan of Tom Cruise the person. But I’m no fan of the private lives of most Hollywood stars. I just don’t get the vitriol and venom spewed against this guy in particular. I mean, this article is already aimed at sinking the guy, and the movie, weeks in advance of its release in hopes it will be still-born. Yet, if Hollywood’s new thing is overseas box office, all the more reason to support Cruise and sing his praises, right? But do they? No, he’s nearly persona non grata in this town. His star is lower than Bryan Singer’s, for God’s sake!

    Oblivion was a clever, beautifully conceived, well-acted sci-fi thriller. Jack Reacher was a blunt-force Charles Bronson throwback, yet well-written and well-acted. Both made very respectable money. And that chaps his detracters’ hides to no end. They want Edge of Tomorrow to tank more than anything, in hopes that Cruise would be finished in Hollywood.

    • Marc Headley says:

      Maybe if you knew anything about the guy, you would understand better why he is hated so much. He supports and promotes a destructive and dangerous cult that sucks on the teet of society whilst enjoying the benefits of tax exemption.

      He knows he’s is better than you and I and has admitted so publicly. If half the cast and crew from Edge of Tomorrow could tell you what it was like working with Tom Cruise, they would tell you that he is an entitled wanker that threw tantrums on the set of the movie and acted like a spooled brat.

      How many more millions will studios have to lose before they realize that this matinée teen idol has lost his bog office mojo long ago?

      Do the world a favor and do not see this movie and support Cruise and his evil cult.

      • Bruce W says:

        Marc, if you knew anything about the guy (and yes I know you have a book about him auditing you) then you would know that he is one of the hardest working guys on set and eats from the same food line as the rest of the crew and does not act above anyone in the production. I don’t know anything about tantrums but we all have our bad days. Also the fact that you would bring up tax exemption, like that is a reason to hate the religion. Mate you had better start your attack on every other religion and corporation or wealthy individual. I also still dont understand how they suck on the teet of society???

        Mate why dont you have a problem with Christianity? I havent seen anyone go to war over Scientology or whatever god they believe in. People can pray to Whinnie the Pooh for all I care, as long as they arent hurting or killing other people.

        Let me make my point, even if you don’t like Tom Cruise you shouldnt bash a movie that hundreds of talented hardworking people help bring to the big screen for our enjoyment. Shame on you mate.

  6. Tolerated Him In WAR OF THE WORLDS But... says:

    Really, does anybody actually groove to Mr. Cruise anymore? Hasn’t he just about exhausted the sci-fi/action genre? Why do I cringe every time I see a trailer with him running around, dodging things? At least EDGE OF TOMORROW (which sounds like a lame cross between “Edge Of Night” and “Search For Tomorrow”) isn’t a musical, a la ROCK OF AGES. But OBLIVION was a big snore, and this new flick is definitely gonna get lost in between GODZILLA and X-MEN. No more $$$ outta me.

  7. Mike Smith says:

    Hey Variety: “All You Need Is Kill” is not a “graphic novel.” It is a regular novel. The U.S. edition happens to have a manga cover, but it is still a prose novel. Do your research.

  8. Johnny says:

    Not a Tom Cruise fan but saw it, WOW what an amazing and original film! Warners and Kroll have a sleeper hit on their hands and know it. Good for them for waiting for the noise of X-Men, Maleficent to pass until they promote the hell out of it!

  9. filmrunner says:

    Kurtzmann and Orci wrote this, so it’ll probably be as good as Amazing Spider-Man 2.

  10. Lex says:

    I have to admit, it looks very cool. That Exo-skeleton stuff is what we’ll be seeing here in a few years.

  11. DETHAN E says:

    WALL HERE CONGRAT FOR URS POSTER

  12. Bruce W says:

    I saw the movie on Sunday and I will say that I was very pleased with it. I actually encourage people to see it in IMAX 3D as well which usually I would never do. I am huge Chris Nolan geek and applaud him for not going over to 3D, but after seeing Edge of Tomorrow, I finally get what its all about. I will admit I am a Tom Cruise fan and have grown up on his movies but I am not a big sci-fi fan and this movie was fantastic. Give it a chance, I promise you that you will leave the theater satisfied.

  13. Michael says:

    Poor title, but it looks great and test audiences have loved it. Can’t wait.

  14. Jay Sotkowy says:

    I had no interest due to the horrible trailers they have released. Until the one before Godzilla this movie looked boring.

  15. DougW says:

    Horrible title. Doug Liman has made some terrific films. This premise works for comedy (“About Time” is a recent example), but are we going to care about a lead character in an action film who is essentially never in danger until the end?

  16. Paula m says:

    You know, it’s a strange thing, but all I want to do is see this man with his daughter in his arms. Perhaps we’ll see that at one of the openings…..

  17. paula m says:

    I’m going for sure.

  18. David says:

    “All You Need is Kill” is a much better title for an action picture. “Edge of Tomorrow” could be a weepy, Austen-esque drama about people growing apart.

  19. BillUSA says:

    I’ll admit to not being a Tom Cruise (the actor) fan and even less of a Tom Cruise (the person) fan. Even so, I can understand his appeal to some degree and why it has been waning since “Jerry Maguire” (not entirely by his box-office performance either).

    I’m also a very intelligent person who studies astrophysics but also embraces the entertainment value of science fiction. I can wrap my head around high concepts in any genre but to be honest, two of his films have thrown me for a loop.

    The first was “Minority Report” where every element of that future was easy to understand. I’m not lost on time travel stories or the paradoxical situations they can present. But that story just lost me about a third of the way through and very nearly made me walk out due to boredom. But I had a guest and well, any such act would be construed as a criminal act against Tom Cruise that she (my guest) would have taken as a criminal act against her.

    The second was “Oblivion” where everything made sense but I didn’t understand the necessity of the story. Perhaps the concept of “Groundhog Day” excites people and since I absolutely abhor repetition maybe I shouldn’t be confused as to why I found it as exciting as eating cardboard.

    But I didn’t start this comment to write a review. The point is that Tom Cruise and sci-fi aren’t an easy relationship. Maybe it’s due to his heartthrob status born in the eighties that follows him like a curse. Perhaps his mind is influenced by scientology in such a way that as a man with considerable influence he uses such to add his flavor to the script to the point where normal folks are turned off by his forays into the genre.

    I wonder why he would make a film with a premise like “Edge Of Tomorrow” when he’s already made a similar-in-nature film called “Oblivion”? It isn’t in the name and I don’t put much stock in advertising. The business of Hollywood being what it is notwithstanding, Tom Cruise just needs to stick to what made him a name actor and stay away from science fiction.

  20. Ashlyn Rose says:

    I will not watch, haven’t in years. His acting is as exciting as last year’s fashion statement. I’m surprised studies still use him

  21. Adam says:

    Edge of Tomorrow is a dumb, forgettable name. This isn’t surprising. Should have kept the original title.

  22. Kenmandu says:

    Edge of Tomorrow was a radio/TV soap.. They could have also used “One Life To Live” another soap tittle they would also work.

  23. Jason says:

    Cruise has proven to be a great actor — Born on 4th, Magnolia, Jerry Maguire — he should stop all
    the sci-fi f/x crap and do his Dallas BC or Foxcatcher, he’s certainly up to it

  24. MattW says:

    I’m surprised they spent so much on this movie. I think the idea is interesting, but for some reason the trailers don’t quite deliver that spark of excitement that’s needed. On the other hand Fault in Our Stars looks incredibly boring yet it’s shaping up to do surprisingly well.

    Also you accidentally got the grosses for Inception and Gravity switched.

  25. EK says:

    Dystopian Ground Hog Day without the humor. Cruise is toast in N. America but still has some cred abroad in some places. Weak marketing here and global P&A plus production cost put this one behind the eight-ball.

  26. Michael Anthony says:

    Tom Cruise should abandon the tentpoles. His “star” power is not as strong as it once was. Time for small films with cachet. Nothing worse than an aging star thinking he can pull in hundreds of millions based on his name. Besides, he carries too much baggage. Amazing studios still throw his way.

    • Annie Paper says:

      I think Tom Cruise did has tried some small films and risky roles before. However, not everyone is as lucky as Mr McConaughey who has media and crowds of people praising his overrated performance. Tom Cruise really did great in “Magnolia”.

    • Robin says:

      So should johnny depp, Matt Damon, clooney, pitt, wahlberg !

  27. Lucy in the sky with diamonds says:

    They should have titled the film the tag line Live. Die, Repeat. That’s cool and memorable. But still all Tom Cruise movies blend into one.

  28. Kay says:

    Definitely going after seeing the latest round of trailers.

  29. R.G. says:

    they should have just open the film with no hype and let word of mouth do the trick …the way it looks now the early word on this over hype film is going to hurt it it might be good, but it has the appeal to me as a sleeper they should have went for the sleeper factor….R.G.

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