Tom Cruise is pretty pissed these days. The star-producer of Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One has been complaining loudly to Paramount executives and others about the IMAX situation, per multiple sources familiar with the dialogue. Mission 7 has booked most of the IMAX screens for the week of the film’s July 12 opening, but then on July 21 comes Universal’s Oppenheimer, which has locked in all the IMAX screens in North America and other territories for three full weeks. Mission 7, Cruise’s nearly $300 million-budgeted baby, is getting bumped.
This makes sense: Christopher Nolan is basically an unpaid brand ambassador for IMAX. He shot Oppenheimer entirely with the IMAX large-format cameras, and Universal dated the Nolan film in his usual late July slot in 2021 well before Mission 7 was dated in early 2022, following four separate Covid delays. Universal was quick to negotiate that exclusive IMAX window. But Cruise is used to getting what he wants (except an Oscar, of course), and I’m told he has expressed his extreme displeasure that the distribution waters aren’t being parted for the guy who “saved” theaters, as Spielberg famously declared. After all, Mission 7 will likely end up grossing more overall than Oppenheimer, putting IMAX in an odd spot and allowing Cruise to argue it makes business sense to give him the best screens. Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick last year grossed $110 million of its $1.49 billion global haul in IMAX theaters, and other premium large format screens contributed hundreds of millions more to the film’s total gross. P.L.F.s and their upcharges are crucial these days to all movies, but especially to those like Mission 7 that are sold primarily as event spectacles.
IMAX makes up just a little more than a third of the large-format screens in the U.S., so Cruise has lately shifted his efforts to securing as many of those non-IMAX P.L.F. screens as he can. He’s been furiously showing the film to exhibitors in an effort to convince them to switch their plans from Oppenheimer or Barbie, which Warners scheduled opposite the Nolan film on July 21 as a middle-finger to Universal after it stole Nolan during the HBO Max day-and-date debacle. (Oppenheimer has not screened for exhibitors yet; I’m not sure about Barbie.) And Cruise is even personally calling around to exhibition and studio executives, per multiple sources. According to one top exec, Cruise has asked rivals to relinquish P.L.F.s or even move their release dates for the good of the entire theatrical business, something that is never going to happen. Cruise’s rep, Amanda Lundberg, and Paramount both declined to comment.