Box Office: ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’ Tries to Prove Tom Cruise Still a Top Gun

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise is risking life and limb in “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” to prove he’s still one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

In the fifth installment of the two-decade-old series, Cruise clings to the side of an Airbus A400 plane during takeoff, holds his breath under water for six minutes, and rappels down the side of the Vienna Opera House. For part six, he’ll likely have to strap himself to the undercarriage of a ballistic missile and go soaring across the Pyongyang skyline if he wants to top himself.

Despite his willingness to risk doing some damage to that beautiful barrel chest, “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” may struggle to bring in crowds. The action adventure is on pace to open to $40 million, a soft opening considering the franchise’s long history and its hefty $150 million pricetag.

“It seems low to me,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “People seem to be turning out this summer for good movies, and this is a good movie.”

Some analysts think that number could rise to $50 million, particularly given that critics love the film and its elaborate, beautifully constructed setpieces. Paramount, the studio behind the movie, will release “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” across 3,800 locations Stateside.

“I think it will pick up as word of mouth gets around,” said Shawn Robbins, assistant editor of BoxOffice.com. “It seems like it could stick around well into August.”

Because Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his IMF team like to rack up frequent flier miles, hopping from Morocco to Austria to the U.K. — all while tracking a shadowy organization hellbent on mucking about with the global economy and assassinating world leaders — the film should play well overseas. “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” will bow in 40 international countries this weekend, including Mexico, Australia and South Korea.

If the domestic opening weekend fails to pass $50 million, expect Monday morning quarterbacking about whether Cruise is sliding off the A-list given that his more recent pictures, “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Oblivion,” failed to generate much heat at the box office.

Hoping to get a jump on all the global espionage going down at the multiplexes, Warner Bros. and New Line will launch “Vacation” on Tuesday night. The reboot of the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” series finds Clark Griswald’s son Rusty hellbent on taking his family on a cross-country trek to Wally World. It’s an R-rated affair, complete with a dip in an excrement-encrusted lake, shots of Chris Hemsworth’s Norse-god-like endowment and the opportunity to see Christina Applegate projectile vomit. Critics have been savage, but they hated comedy hits like “We’re the Millers” and “Identity Thief” with no discernible box office effect.

The film will debut across 3,411 locations and should bring in $30 million over its first five days and $24 million for the weekend. That’s a solid debut considering that “Vacation” cost a modest $31 million to produce.