(Photo by Paramount /Courtesy Everett Collection)

All Mission: Impossible Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

“Hey, Tom. Paramount here. Yes, the studio. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a new summer franchise out of a 30-year-old TV show, and have it virtually improve with each sequel over 20 years…”

And so Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt has halo-jumped, rock-climbed, motorcycle-duelled, and face mask-revealed his way across dozens of countries to unravel all manner of world threats in the Mission: Impossible movies. He’s had help along the way, featuring a cast of series veterans, like Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg, and occasional players like Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton. Hunt hasn’t had too much help from the IMF, though, considering how many times they think their star employee has gone rogue.

A trademark for most of Mission: Impossible‘s lifespan was bringing in a new director for each entry, ranging from John Woo to Brad Bird to Brian De Palma, giving each entry a unique spin. But Since Rogue Nation, Cruise (who also produces) has found a perfect collaborator in Christopher McQuarrie. He was the first to direct two M:Is in a row, with Fallout raking in the series’ best box office and critical marks. McQuarrie will direct the next two films, both shooting concurrently, scheduled for May 27, 2022 and July 7, 2023.

Before we see what death-defying hijinks they get into next (we don’t think Ethan’s been to the moon yet), we’re ranking all Mission: Impossible movies by Tomatometer!

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 62824%
Critics Consensus: Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences.
Synopsis: Tom Cruise returns to his role as Ethan Hunt in the second installment of "Mission: Impossible." This time Ethan Hunt... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 69438%
Critics Consensus: Full of special effects, Brian DePalma's update of Mission: Impossible has a lot of sweeping spectacle, but the plot is sometimes convoluted.
Synopsis: When U.S. government operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his mentor, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), go on a covert assignment... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 79671%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, with eye-popping stunts and special effects, the latest Mission: Impossible installment delivers everything an action fan could ask for. A thrilling summer popcorn flick.
Synopsis: Retired from active duty, and training recruits for the Impossible Mission Force, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces the toughest... [More]
Directed By: J.J. Abrams

#3
Adjusted Score: 102856%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works.
Synopsis: Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#2
Adjusted Score: 106595%
Critics Consensus: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation continues the franchise's thrilling resurgence -- and proves that Tom Cruise remains an action star without equal.
Synopsis: With the IMF now disbanded and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, a new threat -- called the... [More]
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie

#1
Adjusted Score: 124077%
Critics Consensus: Fast, sleek, and fun, Mission: Impossible - Fallout lives up to the "impossible" part of its name by setting yet another high mark for insane set pieces in a franchise full of them.
Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie

Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures

(Photo by Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures)

All Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

From his teen idol days in the early ’80s to his status as a marquee-lighting leading man today, Tom Cruise has consistently done it all for decades — he’s completed impossible missions, learned about Wapner time in Rain Man, driven the highway to the danger zone in Top Gun, and done wonders for Bob Seger’s royalty statements in Risky Business, to offer just a few examples. Mr. Cruise is one of the few honest-to-goodness film stars left in the Hollywood firmament, so whether you’re a hardcore fan or just interested in a refresher course on his filmography, we’re here to take a fond look back at a truly impressive career and rank all Tom Cruise movies by Tomatometer.

#41

Cocktail (1988)
7%

#41
Adjusted Score: 8939%
Critics Consensus: There are no surprises in Cocktail, a shallow, dramatically inert romance that squanders Tom Cruise's talents in what amounts to a naive barkeep's banal fantasy.
Synopsis: Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) wants a high-paying marketing job, but needs a business degree first. Working as a bartender to... [More]
Directed By: Roger Donaldson

#40

The Mummy (2017)
16%

#40
Adjusted Score: 38654%
Critics Consensus: Lacking the campy fun of the franchise's most recent entries and failing to deliver many monster-movie thrills, The Mummy suggests a speedy unraveling for the Dark Universe.
Synopsis: Nick Morton is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artifacts and sells them to the highest... [More]
Directed By: Alex Kurtzman

#39

Losin' It (1982)
18%

#39
Adjusted Score: 8529%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A teenager (Tom Cruise) and his buddies drive to '60s Tijuana with a woman (Shelley Long) looking for a quick... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#38

Lions for Lambs (2007)
27%

#38
Adjusted Score: 34852%
Critics Consensus: Despite its powerhouse cast, Lions for Lambs feels like a disjointed series of lectures, rather than a sharp narrative, and ends up falling flat.
Synopsis: Inspired by their idealistic professor, Dr. Mallery (Robert Redford), to do something meaningful with their lives, Arian (Derek Luke) and... [More]
Directed By: Robert Redford

#37
Adjusted Score: 52030%
Critics Consensus: Monotonously formulaic, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is one action thriller sequel whose title also serves as a warning.
Synopsis: Investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) springs into action after the arrest of Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), an Army major accused... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#36

Legend (1985)
40%

#36
Adjusted Score: 42193%
Critics Consensus: Not even Ridley Scott's gorgeously realized set pieces can save Legend from its own tawdry tale -- though it may be serviceable for those simply looking for fantasy eye candy.
Synopsis: Darkness (Tim Curry) seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns. Jack (Tom Cruise) and his... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#35

Days of Thunder (1990)
38%

#35
Adjusted Score: 42654%
Critics Consensus: Days of Thunder has Tom Cruise and plenty of flash going for it, but they aren't enough to compensate for the stock plot, two-dimensional characters, and poorly written dialogue.
Synopsis: In the fast-paced world of NASCAR, a rivalry brews between rookie hotshot Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) and veteran racer Rowdy... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#34

Vanilla Sky (2001)
42%

#34
Adjusted Score: 48761%
Critics Consensus: An ambitious mix of genres, Vanilla Sky collapses into an incoherent jumble. Cruise's performance lacks depth, and it's hard to feel sympathy for his narcissistic character.
Synopsis: Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe reunite after "Jerry Maguire" for "Vanilla Sky," the story of a young New York City... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#33

Rock of Ages (2012)
43%

#33
Adjusted Score: 51868%
Critics Consensus: Its exuberant silliness is almost enough to make up for its utter inconsequentiality, but Rock of Ages is ultimately too bland and overlong to justify its trip to the big screen.
Synopsis: The songs of Journey, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and other artists underscore a tale of big dreams in Hollywood. Soon... [More]
Directed By: Adam Shankman

#32

Far and Away (1992)
50%

#32
Adjusted Score: 50614%
Critics Consensus: Handsome and simplistic, Far and Away has the beauty of an American epic without the breadth.
Synopsis: Joseph (Tom Cruise) and his landlord's daughter, Shannon (Nicole Kidman), travel from Ireland to America in hopes of claiming free... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 63512%
Critics Consensus: All the Right Moves is an uncommonly grim coming-of-age drama that overcomes numerous clichés with its realistic approach to its characters and setting.
Synopsis: Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise), the star player of his high school football team, is desperately hoping that his football talents... [More]
Directed By: Michael Chapman

#30

Knight and Day (2010)
52%

#30
Adjusted Score: 59861%
Critics Consensus: It's pure formula, but thanks to its breezy pace and a pair of charming performances from Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day offers some agreeably middle-of-the-road summer action.
Synopsis: June Havens (Cameron Diaz) chats up her charming seatmate on a flight out of Kansas, but she doesn't realize that... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#29

Oblivion (2013)
53%

#29
Adjusted Score: 63508%
Critics Consensus: Visually striking but thinly scripted, Oblivion benefits greatly from its strong production values and an excellent performance from Tom Cruise.
Synopsis: In the year 2077, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) works as a security repairman on an Earth left empty and devastated... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Kosinski

#28

Top Gun (1986)
59%

#28
Adjusted Score: 64619%
Critics Consensus: Though it features some of the most memorable and electrifying aereial footage shot with an expert eye for action, Top Gun offers too little for non-adolescent viewers to chew on when its characters aren't in the air.
Synopsis: The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 62824%
Critics Consensus: Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences.
Synopsis: Tom Cruise returns to his role as Ethan Hunt in the second installment of "Mission: Impossible." This time Ethan Hunt... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#26

Valkyrie (2008)
62%

#26
Adjusted Score: 68922%
Critics Consensus: Given the subject matter, Valkyrie could have been an outstanding historical thriller, but settles for being a mildly entertaining, but disposable yarn.
Synopsis: Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) serves Germany with loyalty and pride but fears that Hitler will destroy his country... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#25

The Outsiders (1983)
68%

#25
Adjusted Score: 71978%
Critics Consensus: The cracks continue to show in Coppola's directorial style, but The Outsiders remains a blustery, weird, and fun adaptation of the classic novel.
Synopsis: A teen gang in rural Oklahoma, the Greasers are perpetually at odds with the Socials, a rival group. When Greasers... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#24
Adjusted Score: 67434%
Critics Consensus: Despite lacking some of the book's subtler shadings, and suffering from some clumsy casting, Interview with a Vampire benefits from Neil Jordan's atmospheric direction and a surfeit of gothic thrills.
Synopsis: Born as an 18th-century lord, Louis is now a bicentennial vampire, telling his story to an eager biographer. Suicidal after... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#23

Jack Reacher (2012)
63%

#23
Adjusted Score: 70610%
Critics Consensus: Jack Reacher is an above-average crime thriller with a smoothly charismatic performance from Tom Cruise.
Synopsis: One morning in an ordinary town, five people are shot dead in a seemingly random attack. All evidence points to... [More]
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 69438%
Critics Consensus: Full of special effects, Brian DePalma's update of Mission: Impossible has a lot of sweeping spectacle, but the plot is sometimes convoluted.
Synopsis: When U.S. government operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his mentor, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), go on a covert assignment... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#21

The Last Samurai (2003)
66%

#21
Adjusted Score: 72757%
Critics Consensus: With high production values and thrilling battle scenes, The Last Samurai is a satisfying epic.
Synopsis: Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is an American military officer hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country's... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#20

Taps (1981)
68%

#20
Adjusted Score: 69391%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bunker Hill Military Academy has been targeted by real estate developers for demolition. The students, outraged at the thought of... [More]
Directed By: Harold Becker

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 79671%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, with eye-popping stunts and special effects, the latest Mission: Impossible installment delivers everything an action fan could ask for. A thrilling summer popcorn flick.
Synopsis: Retired from active duty, and training recruits for the Impossible Mission Force, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces the toughest... [More]
Directed By: J.J. Abrams

#18

The Firm (1993)
75%

#18
Adjusted Score: 79525%
Critics Consensus: The Firm is a big studio thriller that amusingly tears apart the last of 1980s boardroom culture and the false securities it represented.
Synopsis: A young lawyer joins a small but prestigious law firm only to find out that most of their clients are... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#17

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
76%

#17
Adjusted Score: 82234%
Critics Consensus: Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work.
Synopsis: After Dr. Bill Hartford's (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met,... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 85844%
Critics Consensus: Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds delivers on the thrill and paranoia of H.G. Wells' classic novel while impressively updating the action and effects for modern audiences.
Synopsis: Dockworker Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) struggles to build a positive relationship with his two children, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#15

Tropic Thunder (2008)
82%

#15
Adjusted Score: 91388%
Critics Consensus: With biting satire, plenty of subversive humor, and an unforgettable turn by Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder is a triumphant late Summer comedy.
Synopsis: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), pampered action superstar, sets out for Southeast Asia to take part in the biggest, most-expensive war... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#14

Jerry Maguire (1996)
84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 89300%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by dazzling performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, as well as Cameron Crowe's tender direction, Jerry Maguire meshes romance and sports with panache.
Synopsis: When slick sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience, he pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#13

Magnolia (1999)
83%

#13
Adjusted Score: 89661%
Critics Consensus: Magnolia is an ambitious, lengthy work that ultimately succeeds due to interesting stories and excellent ensemble performances.
Synopsis: On one random day in the San Fernando Valley, a dying father, a young wife, a male caretaker, a famous... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#12

A Few Good Men (1992)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 88395%
Critics Consensus: An old-fashioned courtroom drama with a contemporary edge, A Few Good Men succeeds on the strength of its stars, with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and especially Jack Nicholson delivering powerful performances that more than compensate for the predictable plot.
Synopsis: Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a military lawyer defending two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#11
Adjusted Score: 88658%
Critics Consensus: Led by an unforgettable performance from Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July finds director Oliver Stone tackling thought-provoking subject matter with ambitious élan.
Synopsis: In the mid 1960s, suburban New York teenager Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) enlists in the Marines, fulfilling what he sees... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#10

Collateral (2004)
86%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94839%
Critics Consensus: Driven by director Michael Mann's trademark visuals and a lean, villainous performance from Tom Cruise, Collateral is a stylish and compelling noir thriller.
Synopsis: A cab driver realizes his current fare is a hit man that has been having him drive around from mark... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#9

American Made (2017)
86%

#9
Adjusted Score: 105278%
Critics Consensus: American Made's fast-and-loose attitude with its real-life story mirrors the cavalier -- and delightfully watchable -- energy Tom Cruise gives off in the leading role.
Synopsis: Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 93097%
Critics Consensus: That it's inferior to the original goes without saying, but Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are a joy to watch, and Martin Scorsese's direction is typically superb.
Synopsis: Former pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson (Paul Newman) decides he wants to return to the game by taking a pupil.... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#7

Rain Man (1988)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 94161%
Critics Consensus: This road-trip movie about an autistic savant and his callow brother is far from seamless, but Barry Levinson's direction is impressive, and strong performances from Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman add to its appeal.
Synopsis: When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home to Cincinnati, where... [More]
Directed By: Barry Levinson

#6

Minority Report (2002)
90%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97558%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller.
Synopsis: Based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report" is an action-detective thriller set in... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#5

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 104366%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
Synopsis: When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj.... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#4

Risky Business (1983)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 95190%
Critics Consensus: Featuring one of Tom Cruise's best early performances, Risky Business is a sharp, funny examination of teen angst that doesn't stop short of exploring dark themes.
Synopsis: Ecstatic when his parents leave on vacation for a few days, high school senior Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose... [More]
Directed By: Paul Brickman

#3
Adjusted Score: 106595%
Critics Consensus: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation continues the franchise's thrilling resurgence -- and proves that Tom Cruise remains an action star without equal.
Synopsis: With the IMF now disbanded and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, a new threat -- called the... [More]
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie

#2
Adjusted Score: 102856%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works.
Synopsis: Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#1
Adjusted Score: 124077%
Critics Consensus: Fast, sleek, and fun, Mission: Impossible - Fallout lives up to the "impossible" part of its name by setting yet another high mark for insane set pieces in a franchise full of them.
Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie

As we all settle in to stay at home and socially distance ourselves, the planet has been given a unique resource not often afforded in the modern world: time. With no place to go, what shall we do with this new abundance of free hours? Time to finish that book you have had on your bedside table? Maybe take an online French class or learn to play an instrument? Time to binge every series that ever was? Or perhaps, like us, you’re thinking of all the films you wished you’d seen but never had the time to before.

Maybe one of those epic movie franchises that seemed too daunting to jump into late in the game – don’t ever admit you’ve never seen an MCU movie, ever – or a series of which you’ve caught a few entries but want to fill in the gaps. Fear not  we have you covered with our Epic Franchise Movie Binge Guide. Read below as we break down some of the most beloved long-running movie franchises – like The Lord of the Rings, Mission Impossible, or the granddaddy of them all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and tell you the best way to approach watching them, how long the binge will take, and which titles you can skip. Because hey, even all the time in the world may not be enough time to make you sit through A Good Day to Die Hard.

Disagree with our picks or have a suggestion for a franchise movie binge? Let us know in the comments. 


The Lord of the Rings

What is it: The film adaptations of the fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, set in ”Middle-earth,” the fictitious medieval land where elves, men, dwarves, wizards, and hobbits co-exist, often not so peacefully. Over the course of several films, we follow hobbit Bilbo Baggins and later his young heir Frodo Baggins as they go on adventures and battle against the forces of evil. 

How many hours: Extended editions: 20 hours 30 minutes; Theatrical cuts: 17 hours and 12 minutes.

Starts with:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)  

Ends with: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)  

Best way to watch: Some would argue the second trilogy – though the first by story chronology – from Peter Jackson was an unnecessary and bloated cash grab that should be avoided at all costs, but we have a better suggestion. We suggest you begin with the LOTR animated film from 1978, which will give you all the events of the films in a quicker and to-the-point format. Then, if you are compelled to see the best of The Hobbit live-action series, we would say check out the standard edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which is the best of the three. We would also suggest you try to watch the extended editions of the original live-action LOTR series – they are more than worth it for the extra content. This recommendation would make for a shorter, 16-hour watch, which could be broken up easily over two days. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. The Two Towers and The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King standard editions are streaming on Netflix.


Marvel Cinematic Universe

What is it: The 23-film saga that chronicles the epic adventures of various superheroes, based on the comics first distributed by Marvel and its subsidiaries. 

How many hours: 50 hours and 3 minutes.

Starts with:   Iron Man (2008)  

Ends with:  Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Best way to watch: Not surprising for a franchise that grossed over $22 billion at the global box office, but Marvel Studios’ 23-film, decade-long opus is quite watchable as is. Some folks would have argued in 2010 that Avengers: The Age of Ultron is a skippable mess, but as we detail here, it is essential viewing to truly appreciate the first four phases of the saga that culminated with Avengers: Endgame. Sorry for those looking for a shortcut, but watching it all is worth it. Viewing all 23 movies straight through, without breaks, however, is not the way to do it.

Instead, we suggest you go in release order and complete each day as follows: day one after Avengers; day two after Ant-man; day three after Black Panther; and finish on day four with Spider-Man: Far From Home. If you’ve previously watched the MCU and are looking to watch it in a new way, use our guide here to watch in chronological order based on the events of each film. If the thought of 50 hours of superheroes is still too intimidating for you, but you want to understand enough to get by, watch these character introduction films (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy) and these team-up films (Civil War, Winter Soldier, Avengers, Ultron, Infinity War, Endgame). Once you have finished that, check out our Oral Histories of the MCU, in which the directors, producer, and casting director who worked on the epic franchise break down all the behind-the-scene secrets.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. All of the films save The Incredible Hulk and the Spider-Man films are streaming on Disney+. The Avengers: Infinity War and The Avengers: Endgame are streaming on Netflix; and Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and Thor are streaming on Amazon Prime.


Die Hard Franchise

What is it: Follow John McClane, a police detective who seems to be a magnet for maniacal criminals no matter which city/structure he is in, and proves to be a tough man to kill.

How many hours: 10 hours and 14 minutes.

Starts with:  Die Hard (1988)

Ends with: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Best way to watch: The original Die Hard is so beloved that many argue it’s the greatest action film ever made – or maybe the greatest Christmas movie, but that is a debate for another day. The film and its follow-ups have a loyal fanbase, and though the second and third entries pale in comparison to the first, we still say they’re worth a watch. The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, is a true return to form and, frankly, it’s where you should stop unless you are a true completist. The series’ most recent film, A Good Day to Die Hard, is the only PG-13 entry on the list, and without McClane’s iconic “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf–ker,” there’s really no point pushing play.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discounted Bundle), Amazon,  iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance are streaming now on CinemaxGoLive Free or Die Hard is streaming on the Starz app.


The Fast & Furious Franchise

What is it: Follow Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, which he calls his family, as they shift from illegal street-racing criminals to heist experts and then finally emerge as a new crime-fighting unit that tackles the world of espionage.

How many hours: 15 hours and 57 mins. 

Starts with: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Ends with:  Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Best way to watch: As Dom and everyone in the Fast franchise says – quite often – this is about family. So, if you’re looking for something to skip, it’s hard to imagine who you’d want to kick out one of the family – though, let’s be honest, 2 Fast 2 Furious is definitely not Dad’s favorite. Without Vin Diesel, that entry can barely call itself a Fast and Furious movie, and the 2009 series soft reboot, Fast & Furious, is not much better and an easy call to skip, as well. We would caution against skipping third entry Toyko Drift; its charms are significantly more than its 37% Tomatometer score would suggest (something we wax about in our book Rotten Movies We Love). Not to spoil anything, but when we finally get Fast 9 in 2021, you’ll need to have seen Tokyo Drift to understand everything fully – check out #JusticeForHan after you finish the series, and you will understand. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Hobbs & Shaw and Fast Five are streaming on HBOnow; Fast 6 is streaming on FXnow.


Rocky Franchise

What is it: Follow Philly underdog boxer-turned-champion, Rocky Balboa, as he battles various fighters in the ring, as well as his own issues outside of it, and later trains the next generation of champions.

How many hours: 14 hours and 55 minutes. 

Starts with: Rocky (1976)

Ends with:  Creed II (2018)

Best way to watch: This one’s real simple: trust us and skip Rocky V. Just pretend it didn’t happen; we’re pretty sure Sylvester Stallone did. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, VuduGooglePlayRocky Balboa is streaming on the Starz appCreed II is streaming on Hulu and Amazon.


Harry Potter / Wizarding World Franchise

What is it: The franchise based on JK Rowling’s phenomenally successful novels follows the adventures of Harry Potter, an orphan-turned-famed wizard, the evil He Who Must Not Be Named, and the Wizarding World they inhabit.

How many hours: 24 hours and 6 minutes. 

Starts with:   Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Ends with:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Best way to watch: As this is a British series, allow us to put this as politely as possible: Fantastic Beasts is simply not quite on form. The first entry is saved by Eddie Redmayne and mesmerizing magical effects; the second entry is the first and only Rotten flick from the Wizarding World and very skippable at this stage. The original seven films are near perfect, but if you wanted to pass over The Chamber of Secrets you wouldn’t miss much – you won’t be too confused later in the series. (Though if watching as a family, this is one the kids tend to like.) If you follow that suggestion, you can finish the entire series in one day.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlayFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is streaming on HBONow.


X-Men Franchise

What Is It: Follow Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men as they try to save the world and the lives of their fellow Mutants. Professor X and co. work with, and sometimes against, mutants like the powerful Magneto, Wolverine, and the wisecracking mercenary Deadpool.
How many hours: 21 hours and 43 minutes.

Starts with:   X-Men: First Class (2011)

Ends with:  Logan (2017)

How to watch: The critics will tell you that both X-Men: The Last Stand (the third of the original films) and X-Men: Apocalypse (the third of the rebooted, second-gen films) are shells of their brilliant predecessors. And with the last X-Men film to enter theaters, Dark Phoenix, disappointing on the Tomatometer and at the box office, you should essentially skip any film that has anything to do with Jean Gray’s Dark Phoenix. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is admittedly a hard watch to suffer through, but you kinda have to just to appreciate the brilliance of Deadpool and its sequel, if only for what they did differently with the character. Every film that character is in after Origins highlights why Ryan Reynolds was born to play the “Merc with a Mouth.”

Watching in the order of events is the best way to approach things if you don’t want to be confused by the time travel that happens later in the series. That order is: First Class, Days of Future Past, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix, X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine, Deadpool, Deadpool 2, Logan. If you leave off the aforementioned weakest entries (The Last Stand, Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix) you can complete the entire series in one day.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool are streaming on FXNowX-Men Origins: Wolverine is available to stream on the Starz app. 


Jurassic Park Franchise

What is it: In these films, we welcome you to Jurassic Park, a theme park – and eventually various associated islands, mansions, West Coast cities – where dinosaurs have been genetically recreated to walk the Earth alongside humans. Over the course of series we watch as that combination invariably doesn’t work out well for the humans.

How many hours: 10 hours and 1 minute.

Starts with:  Jurassic Park (1993)

Ends with:  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Best way to watch: This was a subject of contentious debate among the RT staff: some thought the Jurassic World part of the franchise is unwatchable, while others had strong takes on Jurassic Park 3 and The Lost World. As this is only a five-film series so far, we compromised: Watch them all and make your own determinations. Either way, we all agreed that the original Jurassic Park is a bona fide classic, and if you haven’t seen it, please remedy this injustice as soon as possible. It only takes a day to watch them all. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is streaming on CinemaxGo.


Mission Impossible Franchise

What is it: Watch secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his crew of talented spies as they battle the world’s most dangerous criminals along with the bureaucracy of his own organization, the IMF. The films are based on the 1960s television show.

How many hours: 13 hours and 3 minutes.

Starts with:   Mission: Impossible (1996)

Ends with:  Mission: Impossible -- Fallout (2018)

Best way to watch: It’s apparent after six films (with a seventh on the way): Tom Cruise really likes playing Ethan Hunt. And with every film, Cruise looks to top the jaw-dropping stunts from the last. Still, there is a stark contrast between the first three films and the rest, in regards to quality and scope. Many will tell you the second film, directed by John Woo, and the third, directed by J.J. Abrams, are the weakest of the set, but they’re still thoroughly enjoyable and feature some truly astonishing stunts – so we suggest you watch them all. And thankfully this is not – yes, we’re gonna say it – impossible to do in one or two days. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Mission Impossible: Fallout is streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu; Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation are streaming on FXNow.


James Bond Franchise

What is it: James Bond, MI6 intelligence officer and international playboy, charms women, thwarts terrorist plots, and sips a shaken martini in well-tailored suits. Based on Ian Fleming’s iconic novels.

How many hours: 55 hours and 11 minutes.

Starts with:  Dr. No (1962)

Ends with:   Spectre (2015)

Best way to watch: For completists, we recommend you start with the Connery films on day one, then do a day of Timothy Dalton, David Niven (the satire Casino Royale from 1967), and George Lazenby’s films, adding one or two of Roger Moore’s. Finish with Moore on day three, then do a full day of Pierce Brosnan for day four, and end the series on day five with Daniel Craig. If that’s a bit too daunting, you can break up the films we suggested for one day across two days instead. If you’re looking for a few to skip, we’d suggest A View to Kill and Octopussy. We’d also suggest you skip Never Say Never Again, as it is a shadow of Connery’s older work; Moonraker is only enjoyable for how laughable it is; and there’s not enough vodka on earth to make The World is Not Enough a good time. Quantum of Solace is another one you can miss, but at least watch the opening scene – it’s fantastic.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, Itunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day are streaming on NetflixQuantum of Solace and Casino Royale (1967) are streaming on HBONow.


Star Trek Franchise

What is it: These are the stories of the USS Enterprise, crafted for the silver screen. Watch Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and later Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) as they lead their crews to the furthest reaches of the universe on a peacekeeping mission to discover new worlds. The films are based on the Star Trek television series and its subsequent spin-offs.

How many hours: 25 hours and 17 minutes.

Starts with:  Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Ends with:  Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Best way to watch: At the risk of angering the original series Trekkies, the first film – Star Trek: The Motion Picture – is simply not very good (it’s 42% on the Tomatometer). The same can be said of The Final Frontier. When we shift into The Next Generation part of the franchise, the series starts off strong but fizzles with Star Trek: Nemesis. We suggest you should skip those four. When you start the reboot franchise, some would advise you to skip Star Trek: Into Darkness, which was much maligned by the fandom but which we say is worth seeing for Benedict Cumberbatch, if nothing else. As far as ordering your binge, watching the series as the films were released is the way to go. Begin with the first set of films featuring the original series characters, followed by the films centering on the cast of The Next Generation, and finish with the reboot films that started in 2009. If you are skipping films following our advice, the new order is original series (The Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, The Voyage HomeUndiscovered Country), followed by the Next Generation films (Generations, First Contact, Insurrection), and finishing with the 2009 reboot films (Star Trek, Into Darkness, Beyond).

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Star Treks 1-6, First Contact, Insurrection, and Generations are streaming AmazonStar Trek: Into Darkness is streaming on FXnow; and Star Trek Nemesis, First Contact, Generations are streaming on Crackle.


Thumbnail image: yParamount, Paramount, courtesy of the Everett Collection 

Thor: Ragnarok only needed to get a 67% on the Tomatometer to improve upon The Dark World‘s score. Looks like all this franchise needed was some new zeal and New Zealand director Taika Waititi because Ragnarok is currently scoring way higher than that, which inspires this week’s gallery of 24 most improved movie sequels by Tomatometer!

This week’s Ketchup brings you ten stories from the last seven days in the realm of film development news.  Included in the mix this time around are headlines involving such movies as Bourne 5, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, Gambit, Ghostbusters, Mission: Impossible 6, and the video game adaptation Five Nights at Freddy’s.


This Week’s Top Story

TOM CRUISE ACCEPTS MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 6

For quite a while, one of the commonly said things about Tom Cruise, Movie Star, is that he will do whatever it takes to promote his latest movie.  Tom Cruise isn’t one of those movie stars who’s shy about talking to the press.  And so, with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opening this week, Tom Cruise was indeed once again out there, answering questions, and what it led to was something of a deluge of new information about Tom Cruise’s future movies.  The biggest reveal (though not necessarily the most surprising) happened on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on which Tom Cruise revealed that there will indeed be a movie we’ll call for now, Mission: Impossible 6.  Tom Cruise said the details are currently being worked out, and that he expects to be filming his 6th movie as Ethan Hunt in the summer of 2016 (possibly suggesting a release date in the summer of 2017).  Also this week, Tom Cruise revealed to MTV that he has come up with an idea for a sequel to last year’s Edge of Tomorrow (although he didn’t reveal exactly what that is).  Whatever the sequel might entail, Tom Cruise said that he has already talked to director Doug Liman and costar Emily Blunt about it (Blunt’s reply was reportedly, “Give me another year, please.”).  Finally, more details were revealed this week about Bob: The Musical, in which Tom Cruise will play “a regular guy who, after a blow to the head, suddenly can hear the inner songs of everyone’s heart as his reality is instantly turned into a musical, much to his dismay.”  Bob: The Musical will be directed by Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) from a script by Michael Chabon (John Carter) with music by Bret McKenzie (HBO’s Flight of the Conchords).  Walt Disney Pictures has not yet announced a release date for Bob: The Musical.


Fresh Developments This Week

1. TOMMY LEE JONES JOINS MATT DAMON IN FIFTH BOURNE

As with many similar franchises (like this week’s Mission: Impossible), each new movie in the Jason Bourne franchise sees both new faces along with returning cast playing their characters from previous movies.  Even 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, which was ostensibly something of a post-Matt-Damon reboot, had several cast members from previous movies (namely, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, and Corey Johnson).  For their fifth movie, Universal has recruited Matt Damon to return as Jason Bourne, along with director Paul Greengrass, who directed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.  We already have heard that Julia Stiles will be returning from previous films, and that Ex Machina star Alicia Vikander was the first announced new cast member. This week, we learned of the second new cast member, and that honor will go to Tommy Lee Jones.  The former Men in Black star is expected to play “a superior officer at the CIA,” echoing the roles played by many of the previous older costars in the Bourne franchise.  Universal Pictures has scheduled the 5th movie (possibly called The Bourne Betrayal) for July 29, 2016.


2. RACHEL MCADAMS IN TALKS FOR FEMALE LEAD IN MARVEL’S DOCTOR STRANGE

Back in April, in the weeks leading up to the release of Aloha, Forbes ran a story asking, “Why Rachel McAdams Never Became a Movie Star“.  One possible answer is that Hollywood just doesn’t make romantic comedies like they used to, and they sort of stopped at exactly the moment when Rachel McAdams might have become a major “rom com” movie star.  So, how exactly do actors and actresses today become bigger stars?  One very common way is by taking roles in major super hero movies, which leads us to this week’s news.  Rachel McAdams confirmed this week that she has been talking to Marvel Studios about signing on for the female lead in next year’s Doctor Strange (11/4/16).  Emphasizing that this is not yet a firm confirmation, McAdams said, “It’s still super-early days, and I don’t know where that’s gonna go, if it’s gonna go anywhere at all.”  So, if Rachel McAdams does indeed join Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Doctor Strange, who might she be playing?  Although there are other possibilities, the female supporting character that seems most likely for Doctor Strange is probably Clea, the niece of Dormammu, one of Strange’s main enemies, and frequent romantic interest.  Clea is also one of Doctor Strange’s longest-running romantic interests.  And Rachel McAdams in a platinum wig would even sort of resemble the way that Clea is frequently depicted in the comics.  Marvel Studios has scheduled Doctor Strange for November 4, 2016.


3. VAMPIRE CLASSIC NOSFERATU TO GET ANOTHER REMAKE

It has now been 37 years since German director Werner Herzog remade F.W. Murnau’s classic 1922 silent film Nosferatu, under the title Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht.  That Nosferatu has been adapted so rarely (he was also depicted in 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire) is surprising that the character he was based upon, Count Dracula, holds the record as the Most Portrayed Literary Character.  (Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed literary human character.)  Director Robert Eggers, who made his debut with the upcoming indie horror film The Witch, has signed a deal to write and direct a remake of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu.  That, unfortunately, is about all that we know about Eggers’ plans to remake Nosferatu.  Among the details not known are whether it will be silent (or a “talkie”), black and white (or in color), live action (or animation), or if Robert Eggers will inadvertently cast a real life vampire who sets about devouring most of the crew.


4. RECENTLY PAROLED SPY JONATHAN POLLARD TO GET HIS OWN BIOPIC

For all of the examples where movie projects spend years (and sometimes, decades) in development, there are sometimes cases where Hollywood’s speed is quite remarkable.  Consider convicted spy Jonathan Pollard who was arrested in 1985 on charges of sharing vital U.S. government secrets with Israel.  On Tuesday morning, the news broke that Jonathan Pollard had been granted parole and will be released in November, 2015.  By 11 minutes after Noon that same day, the news broke that producer Gail Berman is now developing  a feature film based on Jonathan Pollard’s life and years in prison.  Gail Berman is best known for executive producing the popular TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  The Jonathan Pollard feature film will be based upon the play The Law of Return, by Martin Blank, “which covers Pollard’s rocky employment by the U.S. Navy, and his motivations for turning spy.”


5. DANIEL RADCLIFFE TO INFILTRATE HOMELAND TERRORISTS IN IMPERIUM

With the Harry Potter franchise increasingly in his rear view mirror, Daniel Radcliffe is continuing to build a new body of work as a prolific actor.  This includes this November’s Victor Frankenstein (in which he plays Igor to James McAvoy’s title character), the indie “corpse comedy” Swiss Army Man, and the Rockstar Games biopic Game Changer.  The latest movie to be added to Daniel Radcliffe’s IMDb profile is an inspired-by-real-events crime thriller called Imperium.  Daniel Radcliffe will play a young FBI agent who is assigned undercover to infiltrate a group of white supremacists planning on constructing a “dirty bomb.”  Imperium will be the feature film debut of short film director Daniel Ragnussis, who also cowrote the script with Michael German, the FBI undercover agent whose experiences form the basis for the movie.


6. MORGAN FREEMAN MIGHT BE RE-ELECTED IN DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA

In addition to the times he has played God, Morgan Freeman has also played the President of the United States in Deep Impact, and the Acting President in Olympus Has Fallen.  This week, there was speculation that Morgan Freeman might again get the chance to be the POTUS again, based on one reference in this story.  But first, the facts we know for sure.  Morgan Freeman has signed with Focus Features to star in an action movie called Down to a Sunless Sea.  Plot details aren’t yet known, except that Down to a Sunless Sea is said to be “similar in tone to Air Force One.”  And that right there is why some people are speculating that Morgan Freeman might play the President in the movie, since the lead character in Air Force One was the President of the United States (as played by Harrison Ford).  Down to a Sunless Sea was written by writer/director David Gleeson (The Front Line, Cowboys & Angels), who has also directed his previous films, but it’s not yet known if he will also be directing Down to a Sunless Sea.


Rotten IdeaS of the Week

3. THIS WEEK IN GHOSTBUSTERS: HINTS AND DENIAL ABOUT THE PRATT/TATUM MOVIE

As of nine days ago, we are now less than a year away from the July 22, 2016 release of the new Ghostbusters (the movie with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, directed by Paul Feig). Back in March (a few months after Feig’s movie was confirmed), there began to be talk online of a second Ghostbusters movie which would be more action-centric, and possibly feature real life friends Chris Pratt and Channing Tatum.  This week, while promoting Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, screenwriter Drew Pearce (who also cowrote Iron Man 3) was quoted as saying that he had “finished by work” on the Pratt/Tatum Ghostbusters.  This led to the online film world sort of blowing up in response to an impending Ghostbusters with two  of the hottest male action stars currently working.  Subsequently, Drew Pearce took to Twitter to clarify, “Also, I’ve only written a bible (because I have to go off and direct my own stuff). No script yet. So news cycle: CHILL YOUR BOOTS.”  That was then followed by this statement by director/producer Ivan Reitman  (the man behind the first two Ghostbusters movies): “As the producer of the new Ghostbusters film, I feel the need to clarify. There is only one new Ghostbusters movie and that is the Paul Feig directed version coming next July, presently filming and going fantastically.  The rest is just noise.”  We’re calling this a “Rotten Idea” in case it really does mean we will never get a Pratt/Tatum Ghostbusters, and similarly, keep reading.


2. OUTSPOKEN GAMBIT ENTHUSIAST CHANNING TATUM MAY FOLD

This was a week of ups and downs for 20th Century Fox’s plans for a solo Gambit movie, based on Marvel’s popular mutant character.  First, there was the news that the studio was planning on a budget of over $154 million for Gambit, with filming to be starting in Louisiana in October under the direction of Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes).  As promising as that news was for the fans who have been dreaming about a big budget Gambit movie since the early 1990s, it was soon overshadowed by the much more widely reported next news item.  And that story (although not yet confirmed) is that Channing Tatum might be dropping out of starring in Gambit.  This story was particularly baffling for many fans since Channing Tatum has been talking up his excitement about starring as Gambit since promoting White House Down two years ago (at a time when no one thought there was ever going to be a Gambit solo movie).  It’s not yet known if Channing Tatum really will drop out of Gambit, or why he would do so.  Some of the speculated reasons include conflicts with 23 Jump Street, the rumored Ghostbusters spinoff, and Channing Tatum’s plans to make his directorial debut.  For the time being, 20th Century Fox still has Gambit scheduled for release on October 7, 2016.


1. VIDEO GAME MOVIES STILL BEING GREENLIT: FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S

Pixels opened last week to disappointing box office (compared to its budget), continuing a trend for video game adaptation movies that dates back decades.  Even so, Hollywood still keeps putting video game adaptations into development, with the hope apparently being each time that the given project will be the one that upsets critical and box office patterns.  Such movies that are currently on their way include The Angry Birds Movie (5/20/16), Warcraft (6/10/16),  Assassin’s Creed (12/21/16), and the Minecraft movie.  Warner Bros is also moving forward with plans for a feature film adaptation of the popular survival horror video game franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s.  The games are set in a children’s theme restaurant called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, where at night, the title animatronic animal comes alive to wreak unholy terror on anyone unlucky enough to be there. The first game came out in 2014, and there’s already been four games in the franchise.  The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie will be directed by Gil Kenan, who made his debut in 2006 with the “Fresh” animated movie Monster House, which was followed by two “Rotten” scores for City of Ember (53%) and this year’s Poltergeist remake (33%).

Two stories in one, both of which deal with science fiction and Will Smith.

First off, it looks like "Battlestar Galactica" producer Ronald Moore is penning a sequel to the Will Smith sci-fi flick "I, Robot." It seems to be in the very early stages, so don’t get all angry just yet. (Moore’s film credits include "Mission: Impossible 2," "Star Trek: First Contact," and "Star Trek: Generations.")

In other (much bigger) news, the first trailer for Will Smith’s apocalyptic thriller "I Am Legend" has hit the ‘net and you can check it out right here. Based on the classic story by Richard Matheson and directed by "Constantine" helmer Francis Lawrence, "I Am Legend" hits theaters on December 14th. And based on this trailer, it looks like it could be pretty darn cool.

Source: Collider.com, Apple Movie Trailers

After a very public break-up with Paramount back in August, Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner have rebounded, set to run the venerated movie studio founded by Hollywood greats Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith.

Cruise and Wagner will revive the new United Artists by ramping up production at the long-dormant studio, which in recent years only served as the occasional art-house distributor for parent companies MGM and Sony.

Under the new administration, UA will produce at least four films per year, with Wagner serving as CEO and Cruise as producer and star. MGM will distribute their pics.

Prior to this new gig, Cruise and Wagner were comfortably ensconced in a fourteen-year relationship with Paramount Studios, where they reaped big returns with Cruise vehicles like "Vanilla Sky," "War of the Worlds," and the "Mission: Impossible" franchise.

But by last summer, it appeared the honeymoon was over as Paramount denied Cruise/Wagner their $10 million annual fee following a year’s worth of Tom Cruise zaniness in the media (Oprah couch-jumping, Katie Holmes wooing, Scientology-endorsing, psychiatry-bashing, Brooke Shields-feuding).

In any case, Cruise and Wagner have been given near-total reign to "control the development, production, and greenlighting of UA films, though subject to certain parameters."

Cruise has yet to announce his next starring role following this summer’s "Mission: Impossible III" (which grossed $395 million worldwide). Cruise/Wagner Productions is in various stages of production on four upcoming films, including remakes of the Pang brothers‘ Hong Kong horror flick "The Eye" and the 1975 cult film, "Death Race 2000."

Well, we all know that Paramount’s not really interested in the Tom Cruise business anymore, but JoBlo’s sharing a piece of gossip from across the pond that might not be true — but it is kinda fun. Unsubstantiated buzz indicates that Paramount wants none other than Brad Pitt to step into the lead for "Mission: Impossible 4."

From JoBlo’s: "According to a report on ThisIsLondon.co.uk, Paramount is so desperate to land Pitt, they’re willing to shell out more money than any studio’s ever given any actor ever (close to 40 million duckets)…"

Maybe I’m confused but … isn’t it that kind of star-lust and money-flinging what soured the Cruise/Paramount relationship in the first place?

Tom Cruise climbed into his usual number one spot at the box office with his heavily-hyped spy sequel Mission: Impossible III, however ticket sales fell below most industry expectations as the debut was not spectacular.

The weekend’s other new releases, the horror flick An American Haunting and the kid drama Hoot, both generated lukewarm openings. But thanks to a weak early May in 2005, the overall marketplace still beat out last year for the seventh consecutive frame.

Paramount claimed the top spot with MI3 which invaded a staggering 4,054 theaters collecting an estimated $48M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The third installment in the decade-old franchise averaged a potent $11,846 per venue. But Tom Cruise’s box office muscles were expected to lift the tally much higher given all the factors that were working in the $150M film’s favor. The newest Mission pic obviously had plenty of starpower but with its early May bow, it had virtually no competition in the multiplexes to deal with. Plus the studio’s marketing hype was deafening, the pic opened in the second highest number of theaters in history for a live-action film (behind Spider-Man 2‘s 4,152), and even the reviews were mostly favorable. That was a welcome bonus as critics are rarely kind to big-budget action sequels.

According to studio research, MI3 connected with the same audience that the previous two did. Men made up 56% of the crowd and 64% were age 25 or older. Joining Cruise in the PG-13 film’s cast were Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Openings for other high-profile action films debuting on the first weekend of May include $68.1M for 2001’s The Mummy Returns, $85.6M for 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and $51.7M for 2004’s Van Helsing. MI3 didn’t even reach the level of Van Helsing. In fact, its opening gross was even weaker than that of Mission: Impossible 2 which launched over Memorial Day weekend six years ago with $57.8M over three days, $70.8M over four days, and $91.8M over its six-day Wednesday-to-Monday span. Even with higher ticket prices, a Friday bow, and hundreds of more theaters, MI3 still failed to reach the heights of MI2. Adjusting for inflation, MI3’s opening was the weakest among the Ethan Hunt flicks. The first Mission bowed to $74.9M over its six-day holiday frame in May 1996 including $45.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.

Instead, the new J.J. Abrams-directed IMF saga opened in the same neighborhood as other recent star-driven spy films like last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M), 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5M), and 2002’s James Bond film Die Another Day ($47.1M). Although opening near the $50M mark over three days is an impressive feat, Cruise’s new film was backed by one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in recent memory. The highly-paid star/producer attended premieres all around the world, popped up on major talk shows and magazine covers, and press coverage, not surprisingly, was non-stop.

Industry watchers must now wonder – was there too much marketing? Were audiences sick and tired of hearing and seeing Tom Cruise everywhere? Did they really want to spend money seeing even more of him? Media-saavy moviegoers voted with their dollars and those who seemed to have had enough chose to stay away. The MI3 hype machine brought back memories of Sony’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle from three years ago. That action sequel also arrived in theaters on a disturbingly loud wave of promotion revolving around its flamboyant stars and Demi Moore‘s relationship with Ashton Kutcher which was constantly covered on the airwaves. Despite the pricey marketing investment, Throttle debuted weaker than expected with $37.6M and crumbled 63% in its sophomore frame.


Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

Paramount was pleased with the international results for Mission: Impossible III as the actioner took in an estimated $70M over the weekend opening in almost all major markets around the world except for Japan. The spy sequel blanketed the globe with roughly 9,500 theaters in 55 markets putting its worldwide opening weekend tally at $118M. The ratio between sales outside and within North America remained the same as with previous Mission pics. The 1996 original grossed 61% of its $465M global tally overseas while MI2 took in 60% of its $538M internationally. This weekend, 60% of MI3’s dollars came from abroad.

With no major competition for the family audience, the Robin Williams comedy RV enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 32% to an estimated $11.1M. The Sony release dropped one notch following its top spot bow and has grossed a solid $31M to date. In just ten days, RV has already become the second biggest live-action grosser for Williams in the past seven years after the $67.4M of 2002’s Insomnia. Look for the $50M road trip flick to end its journey in the neighborhood of $60M.


R.V.

Opening in third place was the supernatural thriller An American Haunting which scared up an estimated $6.4M in ticket sales in its first three days. The PG-13 film averaged a decent $3,825 from 1,668 theaters. Reviews were mostly negative for the Donald SutherlandSissy Spacek starrer about a possessed young woman in the 1800s. Distributor Freestyle Releasing’s weekend estimate included an unusually low Saturday-to-Sunday decline of less than 5%. Final grosses released on Monday could see the figure come down.


"An American Haunting," "Stick It," and "United 93"

The gymnastics comedy Stick It tumbled 49% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.5M giving Buena Vista $18M in ten days. Look for the teen pic to reach $27-29M which is commendable for its genre. After a solid takeoff last weekend, the 9/11 hijack thriller United 93 declined a substantial 55% in its sophomore frame and grossed an estimated $5.2M. After ten days, Universal’s $15M pic has collected $20.1M and should find its way to roughly $30M domestically.

Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown dropped 45% to an estimated $4M in its sixth frame to boost its cume to $183.3M. Crumbling 58% in its third spook was Sony’s fright flick Silent Hill which grossed an estimated $3.9M lifting the cume to $40.8M.


"Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Silent Hill," and "Scary Movie 4"

The spoof sequel Scary Movie 4 fell 52% to an estimated $3.8M and brought its total to $83.7M. The Starbucks-promoted kid drama Akeelah and the Bee enjoyed a respectable second weekend hold dropping 43% to an estimated $3.4M. After ten days, the Lionsgate release has still only grossed $10.7M and seems likely to finish close to $20M.

Opening to dismal results with an estimated $3.4M from 3,018 theaters was the kid drama Hoot from New Line. The PG-rated story of a group of boys who set out to save endangered owls averaged a pitiful $1,127 per location. Fans of the best-selling book apparently avoided the film adaptation and critics for the most part were unimpressed.


"Akeelah and the Bee," "Hoot," and "The Promise"

A handful of films opened in limited release to mixed results. Warner Independent debuted the Chinese epic The Promise in 213 theaters but grossed only $271,000 according to estimates for a poor $1,272 average. The Golden Globe-nominated adventure was China’s official submission to this year’s Oscars and is reportedly that country’s most expensive film ever made. U.S. critics were not very pleased.

Sony Classics bowed its indie comedy Art School Confidential which grossed an estimated $142,000 from a dozen sites in New York and Los Angeles averaging a strong $11,833 per site. The Terry Zwigoff-directed film expands to nearly 800 theaters in most major markets on Friday. ThinkFilm debuted its Edward Norton starrer Down in the Valley to an estimated $26,000 from three New York houses for a solid $8,770 average. The film widens to three more cities on Friday before gradually expanding throughout May.


"Art School Confidential"

Among holdovers, Fox Searchlight expanded its widow drama Water from five to 36 theaters and grossed an estimated $188,000 for a $5,222 average. The ten-day total stands at $270,000 and this Friday the Deepa Mehta film will widen to about 60 sites. The distributor’s indie sensation Thank You for Smoking collected an estimated $1.1M, off 40%, for a $20M cume.

Three April releases were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. The Michael Douglas political thriller The Sentinel took a big hit from MI3 and crashed 62% to an estimated $3M putting its 17-day cume at $30.9M. Fox should find its way to about $36M. Disney’s underperforming toon The Wild slumped 46% to an estimated $2.6M. With only $32M in the bank, the animated film looks to conclude with $36-38M. Sony, on the other hand, has generated solid numbers for its sports comedy The Benchwarmers which grossed an estimated $2M this weekend. Down 54%, the Rob SchneiderDavid Spade film has taken in $55.6M thus far and is set to end with just under $60M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.7M which was up a healthy 24% from last year when Kingdom of Heaven opened at number one with $19.6M; but off 4% from 2004 when Van Helsing debuted in the top spot with $51.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies brings spies ("Mission: Impossible III"), spooks ("An American Haunting") and hoots ("Hoot"). What do the critics have to say?


You wouldn’t believe how many couch-jumps it took to train for this shot…

Ok, first the bad news: According to critics, the plot of "Mission: Impossible III" makes precious little sense. The good news: Who cares? The third time’s a charm for the espionage/explosion series, and the scribes say "Alias"/"Lost" creator J.J. Abrams brings a fresh, loopy energy to the proceedings. Tom Cruise is back once again to save the world, this time from Philip Seymour Hoffman. With absurd-but-exhilarating action sequences and interesting supporting players, "M:I:III" is the best reviewed film of the series, and at 78 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s Certified Fresh.


"An American Haunting"…like "Casper," only…not.

Recently, the makers of horror films have found that adding a "based on true events" handle gives their fright-fests an added jolt of heft. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" tried it, and now comes "An American Haunting," a ghost tale set in 1820s Tennessee. The critics say the film has an atmospheric gloominess and some solid performances (particularly from Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland), but its scares are pretty rote. It currently stands at 29 percent on the Tomatometer.


These kids give a "Hoot"…but will audiences?

Despite the deep divisions wrought by divergent political leanings in recent years, I think we can all agree on several things. It’s a bad idea to pave the wetlands in order to build a pancake house. Luke Wilson is pretty cool. And "Margaritaville" is darned catchy. Unfortunately, the scribes say "Hoot," a tale of some kids who save the habitat of the wise old owl (which features songs by Jimmy Buffett) is an innocuous, but not particularly rousing, family picture. At 30 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes just don’t, ahem, give a hoot.

Mission: Impossible Movies:
———————————-
58% — Mission: Impossible II (2000)
66% — Mission: Impossible (1996)

Recent Tom Cruise Movies:
———————————-
72% — War of the Worlds (2005)
85% — Collateral (2004)
69% — The Last Samurai (2003)
92% — Minority Report (2002)
38% — Vanilla Sky (2001)

The summer movie marathon kicks off on Friday with the much-anticipated launch of the Tom Cruise spy sequel Mission: Impossible III which will easily dominate the worldwide box office. Two much smaller films will attempt to offer some counter-programming for those moviegoers not in the mood for globetrotting action. New Line unleashes the kid drama Hoot while Freestyle Releasing debuts its horror flick An American Haunting. Neither is expected to put a dent into the MI3 machine which looks to lead the industry to its best summer kickoff in three years.

After a six-year break, IMF Agent Ethan Hunt returns to the world of espionage in Mission: Impossible III anchored by Hollywood’s most bulletproof star. Director J.J. Abrams, best known to audiences as the creator of the hit ABC programs Lost and Alias, takes the helm of the latest PG-13 installment. A full decade after the franchise first launched, Tom Cruise returns to one of his most lucrative business ventures as a secret agent forced to reteam with fellow spies to stop a maniacal arms dealer played by recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. Ving Rhames is back for his third mission and is joined by Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and Laurence Fishburne.

As to be expected, MI3 packs all the action-packed thrills, death-defying stunts, and chilling suspense that fans are looking for both from the spy series as well as from their early summer popcorn flicks. Cruise flashes his billion-dollar smile every 2.3 seconds in the film and moviegoers get to see their hero play the "dedicated husband" role this time. The big box office question is whether Suri’s dad has lost any fans over the past year because of his strange behavior on talk shows, wacky public appearances with Katie Holmes, and dedication to Scientology. Is he still popular? Who else on the planet has grossed $4 billion dollars worldwide over the last 14 years with his films?

Odds are he has indeed turned off some paying customers who showed up in years past for Mission: Impossible films, but will now choose to sit this one out. However, the overall audience for this giant is so immense that it will only make a small dent. Plus Paramount wisely staked out the first weekend of May ages ago for their prized property as the studio knew the film would need all the help it could get in order to guarantee blockbuster status. With no real competition in the marketplace, MI3 will monopolize the attention of both audiences and the media. Plus, megaplexes typically have more available screens at this time of year so the spy sequel can gobble up a fifth or sixth screen. In June and July, when so many big movies are crowded into theaters, the biggest hits are lucky to secure three or four screens within a venue. MI3 should have no problem soaking up all the consumer demand there is this weekend.

Over the last two years, the first weekend in May turned out to be rather disappointing. After 2001’s The Mummy Returns ($68.1M debut), 2002’s Spider-Man ($114.8M), and 2003’s X2: X-Men United ($85.6M), Universal’s monster movie Van Helsing kicked off summer on the frame but its $51.7M bow seemed rather subdued compared to what the industry had seen in the past. Last year was even worse with the Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven slumping to a $19.6M debut. This year, Hollywood kicks off summer with a crowdpleaser that is as mainstream and as commercial as it gets. MI3 may not have a crazed fan base like comic book pictures have, but it certainly should fly higher than the openings of other A-list spy flicks. The last James Bond film Die Another Day opened to $47.1M in 2002 while 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy took off with $52.5M. Cruise provides more starpower and the Mission series is arguably a bigger box office draw so the turnout this weekend should definitely top these figures.

Comparing the new film to the previous two makes little sense in terms of box office grosses. Both of those opened mid-week ahead of a four-day Memorial Day holiday frame plus had other big blockbusters in the marketplace to deal with. Still, Mission: Impossible’s $56.8M four-day bow and MI2’s $70.8M holiday launch proved that moviegoers looking for some bang for the buck at the beginning of summer looked to Cruise for their thrills. Once again all the bases have been covered with Mr. You Complete Me hopping around the world over the past week attending premieres, dominating all press attention, and hyping up his film to ensure that ticket buyers come out to see this on the big screen. Plus Hoffman, fresh from his Academy Award win, adds value and credibility to the project as audiences prefer known actors in the role of the villain rather than some nobody whose acting fees happen to fit the budget.

Paramount is sparing no expense in marketing Mission: Impossible III which should come as no surprise. As a studio, Paramount has only seen two films open to more than $50M over three days and both were Cruise vehicles – last year’s War of the Worlds with $64.9M and 2000’s MI2 with $57.8M. Their number one commodity has been out courting every demographic that has disposable income in hopes of appealing to a broad audience. Exciting teens and young adults is especially important as this heavy-spending group needs to be sold on the fact that the 43-year-old Cruise can still be a "hottie." The requisite MTV appearances should do the trick. Older adults pay attention to critics and the film has scored high marks in that department so far.

This weekend, all eyes are on MI3 to energize the marketplace and the fireworks begin early with many theaters starting their first showtimes at 10:00pm on Thursday night. A colossal theater count that is the second largest in history for any live-action film (after Spider-Man 2‘s 4,152) will make sure the product is available around every corner. Breaking into a mammoth 4,054 theaters in North America, the action thriller might open with around $74M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.

Those looking for a few less bullets and explosions this weekend will have the chance to spend some time with a group of good-hearted kids trying to save endangered owls in the family drama Hoot. Based on the best-selling book, the PG-rated film is aimed at kids under the age of 14 as well as their parents. Fans of the book may certainly come out in force this weekend although some may be deterred by the lukewarm reception that critics are giving it. With Luke Wilson as its big name, Hoot has virtually no starpower to tap into and so will have to rely on the built-in audience in order to make an impressive showing. The Robin Williams film RV will provide ample competition for families and Stick It will steal away young girls leaving young boys as the likely audience. New Line’s marketing has not been too fierce so there is only so much box office potential. Hoot flies into more than 2,800 theaters on Friday and could debut with about $9M.

Trying to carve out its own piece of the pie this weekend is the supernatural thriller An American Haunting which recently plopped itself onto the May 5 date. The PG-13 film stars Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek as nineteenth century landowners whose daughter becomes possessed. Distributor Freestyle Releasing is hoping to tap into the Exorcism of Emily Rose crowd with its spooky premise and tame rating making it accessible to young teens. However, Haunting should scare up a fraction of the business as much of its target audience will be busy lining up for MI3. A different release date would have been smarter. The marketing behind Haunting makes it look like the run-of-the-mill creepfest and after a long line of successful horror hits this year, audiences are demanding more. An American Haunting bows in 1,667 houses on Friday and may take in around $5M.

Opening in limited release this weekend is the epic fantasy adventure The Promise which unites top actors from China, Korea, and Japan. Written and directed by Chen Kaige (Farewell, My Concubine), the PG-13 film was nominated for a Golden Globe in the foreign language category and was China’s official entry into this year’s Academy Awards. It was set to be released by The Weinstein Co. with the title Master of Crimson Armor, but the distribution deal fell apart at the beginning of this year. Warner Independent Pictures will now release The Promise charging into an aggressive 209 theaters in its first weekend.

With all eyes on Ethan Hunt this weekend, holdover pictures will all take a backseat and see their grosses erode. But if history is any indicator, the declines may not be too steep. In both 2002 and 2003, when the first weekend of May saw colossal openings from Spider-Man and X2 respectively, most major holdovers experienced drops that were only in the 40-45% range. Studios are hoping that MI3 will bring in more traffic to the theaters and that there will be extra dollars to go around.

Last weekend’s top film RV will not see too much competition from the spy sequel, but instead has Hoot taking away some of its family audience. A 40% drop to around $10M would give Sony’s Robin Williams pic $30M in ten days. Universal’s 9/11 thriller United 93 has generated solid reviews, scored very high in its exit polls, and generated a strong per-theater average last weekend. Second weekend sales should remain respectable. A 35% decline would give United 93 about $7.5M for the frame and a ten-day tally of $22M. Buena Vista’s gymnastics comedy Stick It might tumble 40% to around $6.5M for a cume of $19M after ten days.

LAST YEAR The first weekend of May saw its worst opening in seven years as Ridley Scott’s big-budget epic Kingdom of Heaven debuted to just $19.6M. The Fox release went on to capture a disappointing $47.4M domestically, but more than tripled that amount overseas leading to a $211M worldwide tally. Opening in second with not-so-scary results was the horror remake House of Wax which bowed to $12.1M for Warner Bros. The fright flick melted quickly reaching a final total of $32.1M. Falling from first to third was the sci-fi comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which dropped 54% to $9.8M in its second voyage. Lions Gate didn’t make much noise opening its little movie called Crash which premiered in fourth with $9.1M. Although the race relations drama generated the smallest opening among the weekend’s three new films, it enjoyed the best legs and eventually became the highest overall domestic grosser with $53.4M. Rounding out the top five was the former Mrs. Cruise’s political thriller The Interpreter which took in $7.8M in its third mission.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com

Dark Horizons shares with us a press release from the mammoth movie makers over at IMAX, and the short version is this: Come June 30th, you’ll be able to enjoy WB’s "Superman Returns" on a traditional movie screen — or through the magic of mega-huge 3-D IMAX technology!

"IMAX Corporation and Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer, will become the world’s first live-action Hollywood feature to be converted from 2D to IMAX® 3D. IMAX Corporation will use its proprietary 2D to 3D conversion technology to convert approximately 20 minutes of the film into An IMAX 3D Experience®, the most immersive cinematic 3D in the world.

"Releasing select sequences of ‘Superman Returns’ in IMAX 3D marks a groundbreaking moment in movies," said Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures. "This film is going to give fans an opportunity to be immersed in a major live-action motion picture like never before."

The epic action-adventure directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men," "The Usual Suspects"), will be transformed into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® through IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-Mastering) technology. The film will be simultaneously released to IMAX® and conventional theatres on June 30, 2006. Warner Bros. Pictures will be the exclusive distributor of the film to the growing IMAX theatre network worldwide.

"The test scenes that have been converted into IMAX 3D look, sound and feel absolutely amazing," added Bryan Singer, director of Superman Returns. "The magic of IMAX 3D will envelop audiences in this story, enabling them to feel the emotion, drama and suspense in a completely new and unique way."

During select sequences of the film, a visual cue designed by Singer will indicate when audiences should put on and remove their IMAX 3D glasses.

"We are delighted to partner with pioneering visionaries Bryan Singer and Warner Bros. Pictures to transform part of this highly anticipated release into An IMAX 3D Experience," said IMAX Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "Today’s announcement is a culmination of a great film, a great filmmaker, a great studio, and great technology – all working together to produce the most powerful and immersive cinematic experience available to moviegoers worldwide."

"Five out of the seven films in our 2006 line up now feature IMAX 3D," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "We are thrilled that moviegoers will be able to experience Bryan Singer’s unique and exhilarating vision. Through the magic of IMAX 3D, they will feel as if they are actually flying alongside the man of steel, weaving in and out of Metropolis."

Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman’s bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space.

Superman Returns stars Brandon Routh (Clark Kent/Superman), Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington and Eva Marie Saint. The film was written by Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty; produced by Gilbert Adler, Jon Peters and Bryan Singer; co-produced by Stephen Jones; and executive produced by Chris Lee."

I think this might be the third or fourth trailer for Paramount’s "Mission: Impossible 3," but as long as the promo clips are this cool, well, I’ll keep on reporting ’em. Click here for the slickest trailer yet.

"M:I3" Bullet Points:

J.J. Abrams is directing. You might know the guy because he created "Alias" and "Lost." If you don’t watch TV, you’ll know Abrams from his screenwriting work on "Joy Ride," "Armageddon," and … "Gone Fishin’."

–The "MI:3" screenplay comes from Abrams and the writing team of Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, the scribe duo behind "The Legend of Zorro" and "The Island."

–The overstuffed cast features names like Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Keri Russell, Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Simon Pegg.

–Flick looks to have a whole bunch of impressive action scenes.

–May 5th is when you can decide where "MI:3" stands in comparison to its predecessors.

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