Tom Cruise is dodging bullets and the movies aren’t even out yet. For many years now, the star of Mission: Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick has preferred to structure his salaries with a low upfront payout and big bonuses, and after watching this gamble cost other A-listers big bucks during the COVID crisis — Scarlett Johannson says she lost $50 million because of how Disney handled Black Widow‘s pandemic release — Cruise has to be happy that both his blockbuster sequels have been delayed. As Deadline reports, Top Gun: Maverick has been pushed back to May 27th, 2022 (from November 2021), while Mission Impossible 7 will retract the repelling rope until September 30th, 2022 (from Memorial Day weekend 2022).
Cruise likely had a say in the decision, since he’s producing both films alongside Skydance and Paramount Pictures. But as Deadline hears it, this is also part of a broader strategy by Paramount. While Disney and Warner Bros. have been cutting their losses with day-and-date releases that boosted Disney+ and HBO Max, respectively, Paramount is ignoring Paramount+ (why not, everyone else is) and making the talent happy.
According to the report, “Paramount didn’t want to cherry pick which movies will open in the current climate. In their view, all their filmmakers and stars deserve the same consideration and positioning in a future potential robust box office marketplace.” For that reason, Jackass Forever has also been pushed back to February 22nd.
Cruise reportedly took $13 million upfront for Top Gun: Maverick, but that’s only supposed to be a fraction of his salary. Mission Impossible 2, for example, earned him about $100 million total, and most of that was tied to the movie’s enormous box office success. The question is, will 2022 deliver a “robust box office marketplace?”
Scientists increasingly agree that COVID-19 is here to stay, and meanwhile most unvaccinated Americans aren’t changing their minds. There’s no telling when society will feel ‘normal’ again, but it might be a long time before a movie turns in a gaudy 2010’s-style box office performance.
That’s part of the risk stars take when they structure their contracts in this way. Tom Cruise couldn’t have known Mission Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick would crash into a pandemic. But he agreed to make a lot less money if the movies flopped in exchange for potentially massive paydays. For the last eighteen months, they’ve all been flops. Regardless, Tom Cruise won’t be the only person hoping 2022 is better.
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