"The target audience for 'Jack Reacher' probably doesn't care whether he's married, separated or divorced," said Fandango.com chief correspondent Dave Karger. "As long as teenage guys tell their friends that they liked it, that's all that matters. These aren't people that are reading Us Weekly. They just want to know how the action is."
Arriving amid a pre-Christmas rush of films, expectations are modest for "Jack Reacher," with the opening weekend projected at $15 million or less. The film was made on a moderate $60 million budget, about $100 million less than Cruise's last "Mission: Impossible" installment, and Paramount executives hope holiday crowds will give "Jack Reacher" an extended shelf life after opening weekend.
Adapted from "One Shot," part of Lee Child's series of best-selling books about a mysterious ex-military investigator, "Jack Reacher" features colder, crueler violence than the typical Cruise action film, which could hurt its prospects after the school shootings in Connecticut.
Cruise's Reacher is a fairly merciless lone wolf, while the movie opens with gruesome slayings as a sniper randomly scopes out victims to shoot.
"No question, for any of these types of movies, it's a raw nerve," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "Violent imagery of any kind may be a bit of a tougher sell right now."
Yet for the long haul, Cruise's prospects look steady. Despite derision his private life has brought him, Cruise has suffered only bumps and bruises professionally. At the height of his bizarre romance with Holmes, when Cruise was jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch to proclaim his love, he bewildered, annoyed and even infuriated fans.