Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
August 5, 2015
Kim Hollis: In terms of box office and quality, where does Mission: Impossible rank amongst the franchises of the late 90s-2000s?
Jason Barney: I don't think it ranks up there with the mega successful franchises like Harry Potter, Transformers, or Hunger Games, but there is no denying the success. It is not like they have been cranking them out like crazy, either. The Mission: Impossible movies stand alone pretty well and we will see how far Paramount can take this.
Ryan Kyle: To repeat a line from my analysis on the opening weekend: "How many franchises can you name that five films deep still draw grosses in line with peak opening of the sequel without the assistance of a reboot, lead recasting, or a decade-long dormancy?" Mission: Impossible gets forgotten about given that the grosses are not close to record-breaking, but in terms of consistency and return on the dollar, it's about as safe as it gets when greenlighting a $150 million production.
Ben Gruchow: I see the Fast and Furious series as a pretty decent analogue for both. In terms of box office, the numbers are a bit lower if we're taking just the first five installments, but you've got a successful opener, a slight dip in gross with the third installment, and a reinvention/reinvigoration of the franchise that starts with the fourth and flowers with the fifth, to escalating box-office gross. With the idea that a M:I 6 is already in the early planning stages, this is the only other major franchise that's contained within the 1990s and 2000s that I can think of where an indefinitely-running franchise has gained steam with its fifth (and presumably sixth) installment.
The quality analogue is a little tricky to describe; I don't believe that the F&F entries are on the same level as the M:I series when it comes to snappiness or wit, but there's a lot of common ingredients here. Both franchises are sincere and consistent in that you know to expect a certain baseline of quality and energy, and that baseline is fairly high. Neither franchise shows visible signs of strain in producing additional entries, partially because both of them reinvented their aesthetic several films in and now chase a totally different tone. Both franchises are made with a respect for the audience they know they have. These two franchises are really sort of in a class of their own, and it's tough to rank them among franchises that have a defined story and a defined start and end (i.e. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, etc.) In terms of consistency of each entry, I'd rank M:I about on par with F&F and the Harry Potter series, which means it ranks near the top. In terms of box office, it's solidly mid-pack: below HP, Hunger Games, Batman, and Lord of the Rings, on par with F&F (and sort of on par with X-Men), above Underworld, Resident Evil, Austin Powers, and others.
Edwin Davies: Commercially, I think it's somewhere in the middle of the pack. The relative failure of the third film, which was a victim of how crappy the second film was and the negative press surrounding Cruise's very public meltdown, is the only blip for a series that has consistently done well domestically and internationally, without ever breaking out in a huge way as the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Fast & Furious films did.
Artistically, it's in the top tier for me. With the exception of the John Woo-directed second film, which was a huge misstep that hurt the franchise in the long-run, all the films have been at worst very good, with the third and fourth films being great blockbusters. Even the lesser films are distinctive works which bear the hallmark of their directors (unlike, say, the recent Marvel movies) and the sense that each film is being driven by a specific vision has helped them to be more interesting and varied than you'd expect, given how repetitive the premise could become.