Paramount is facing a dilemma on whether to embark on a sequel to Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher, and sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the film must do exceptional business in key Asian territories where it has yet to open in order to justify another installment in the wannabe franchise.
The $60 million-budgeted film, which Paramount and financing partner Skydance Prods. had hoped would launch a franchise, has done solid but unspectacular business since opening over Christmas. Through Sunday, the film based on Lee Child’s popular book series has earned $72.6 million domestically and $80.4 million internationally, where Cruise has continued to enjoy greater star status.
But sources close to the studio tell THR the movie needs to gross $250 million worldwide for Paramount to consider moving forward with another installment — a challenging goal.
The film’s fate relies on enjoying strong runs in Japan, China and Korea, where it has yet to open. Reacher debuts in Korea later this week, followed by Japan on Feb. 1. The movie is tentatively slotted to open in China on Feb. 16, one week before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey debuts Feb. 22. It also will have to compete with two Chinese movies that open on Feb. 14 during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Domestically, Reacher isn’t likely to earn more than $85 million, meaning it must do a total of $165 million internationally, or double its current total. And if the film does reach $250 million, Paramount and Skydance must still negotiate a deal with Cruise that would keep the sequel’s budget at roughly the same price, sources say.
Paramount opens Reacher in Korea later this week. The movie debuts in Japan — where Cruise is a huge star — over the first weekend in February, and in China later in the month.
Reaching $250 million isn’t out of the question. The 2008 film Knight & Day, a romantic action pic starring Cruise and Cameron Diaz, grossed a total of $185.5 million internationally, including $28.3 million in Japan and roughly $14 million in Korea. However, the Japan box office has softened since then. To boot, females drive the box office in that country and are drawn to romantic storylines.
Paramount and Cruise know how important Japan is. Last week, the star traveled there for the premiere of the film.
The studio and David Ellison’s Skydance were so keen on Reacher after the wildly successful Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol that they moved up the film’s release from spring 2013 to the year-end holidays.
Cruise’s star status had dimmed in North America in recent times but seemed to be restored with Ghost Protocol, which grossed $209.4 million domestically and another $485.3 million internationally for a total of $694.7 million, a franchise best.
Box office observers say the male-driven Reacher has been overshadowed by other Christmas releases, including Django Unchained and Les Miserables.
Overseas, Reacher has done its biggest business to date in the UK ($11.5 million), France ($8.4 million) and Australia ($6.2 million).