Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Entertainment

April 22, 2013

Fans sink into Cruise's 'Oblivion' in $38.2M debut

(Continued)

A year ago, two new romances — the comedy "Think Like a Man" and the drama "The Lucky One" — combined for $56 million that weekend, while the blockbuster "The Hunger Games" remained strong with nearly $15 million.

"Even Tom Cruise was unable to beat the strength of two really strong newcomers that were devoid of stars anywhere near in his league," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "That tells you the difference between last year and this year. Even when we have a good weekend like this in 2013, generally these weekends, they pale by comparison to what happened last year."

Domestic revenues in 2013 total $2.76 billion, down 11.2 percent from where business was at last year, when Hollywood took in record cash.

Business slumped a bit in summer 2012 with some high-profile duds, so studios have a shot at gaining ground over last year with this season's upcoming blockbusters, which include "Iron Man 3," ''Star Trek Into Darkness," ''The Hangover Part III" and "Man of Steel."

Still, the gap almost certainly will continue to rise in the early part of the summer season.

Disney's Marvel Studios sequel "Iron Man 3" is expected to open with a whopping $125 million-plus domestically over the first weekend in May, Dergarabedian said. But that would fall far short of the record-breaking $207.4 million debut for the Marvel ensemble smash "The Avengers" over the same weekend last year.

Even so, Cruise's "Oblivion" provides a solid action lead-in to summer. The film stars Cruise as a repairman fixing machines in the wastelands of Earth after an alien attack.

Despite upheavals and odd behavior in Cruise's personal life in the last six or seven years, he remains one of Hollywood's surest box-office draws. Universal reported that in exit polls, fans cited Cruise as the No. 1 reason they saw the film.

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