'Jack Reacher 2' to Test Tom Cruise's Box-Office Allure Beyond 'Mission: Impossible'

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The star also is filming 'Mena,' the '80s drug thriller from Doug Liman, and Paramount wants to shoot 'M:I 6' next summer.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

In the days leading up to the release of Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, many wondered whether the damning Scientology documentary Going Clear would further hurt Tom Cruise at the U.S. box office, where the actor fell out of favor with many fans a decade ago after jumping on Oprah Winfrey's couch. The answer was a definitive no when Rogue Nation opened to $55.2 million over the July 31 weekend.

But will this newfound heat extend beyond the Mission: Impossible franchise? The previous installment, 2011's Ghost Protocol, earned more than $694 million worldwide, including $209.4 million in North America, yet Cruise's next films — Jack Reacher (2012), Oblivion (2013) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014) — all disappointed domestically. Sources say Paramount has finalized plans to start shooting Jack Reacher 2 in November with Ed Zwick directing. Paramount and Skydance, partners on the M:I and Jack Reacher franchises, intend to release the sequel in late 2016. Jack Reacher grossed $80.1 million domestically and $138.3 million overseas — where Cruise has remained far more of a draw. Paramount initially balked at making a sequel, but the movie, based on the book series by Lee Child, ended up turning a profit thanks to ancillary markets.

Another test for Cruise will be Mena, a 1980s drug thriller from Doug Liman, the director of Edge of Tomorrow. Although Liman nearly is done shooting, Universal won't open Mena until Jan. 6, 2017. Cruise stars as a real-life former TWA pilot who smuggled drugs for the Medellin Cartel in the 1980s before becoming a DEA informant.

Before that film opens, Paramount now wants to shoot Mission: Impossible 6 during summer 2016 for release in 2017, probably in June or July. Adds Rentrak analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Cruise, "He will capitalize on this and so will the studios, who will all want to continue to work with him."

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