The More Tom Cruise Runs, The Better His Movies Are: A Tomatometer Deep Dive

As the number of feet Tom runs increases, so do the critical accolades – we did the math.

by | July 25, 2018 | Comments

Tom Cruise has sprinted a little over 24,000 feet on screen throughout his 37 years in the movies, and with Mission: Impossible – Fallout racing towards its theatrical release, the numbers on his cinematic pedometer are about to go up. His tendency to run – a lot ­– in his 41 films has become a thing of legend – online, you’ll find 19-minute video supercuts of his sprints and style breakdowns that note his stellar form: Eyes forward, elbows sharp, feet a blur. But does all that running make for better movies? That’s what we’ve investigated here, comparing the amount of running Tom does in movies to the amount of money Tom’s movies make and the amount of Freshness they score on the Tomatometer.

The methodology was simple, if time-consuming: We counted every instance of Cruise’s running on screen, in seconds, and then calculated the distances ran by assuming he is clocking a six-minute mile (14.6 feet per second). The result is a list of estimated distances for each film that we believe is the solidest you’ll find in the online canon of Tom Cruise Running Materials. We then split his movies into four different distance categories, ranging from Zero Feet all the way to 1,000-Plus Feet, to spot the trends.

The biggest trend? Movies featuring Cruise running more than 1,000 feet have a higher Tomatometer average (a huge 71%) than the movies in which he runs less than that, or not at all – and the same movies make more money at the box office, with an average inflated international gross of $538 million. We also found that the age-defying star has been increasing his movie running as he gets older: he covered almost the same amount of ground in 2006’s Mission: Impossible III (3,212 feet) than he did in the entirety of the 1980s (12 movies, 3,299 feet ran), and five of his top 10 running films were released after 2010 – the year he would turn 48.

You can find Cruise’s 10 biggest movies, according to how many feet he ran in them, at the bottom of this piece, but for now let’s dig into the data, one sweaty category at a time…

When Tom Doesn’t Run At All (0 feet)

  • Inflated International Box Office Average: $153 million
  • Tomatometer Average: 63.5%

Magnolia (1999) | Lions for Lambs (2007) | Tropic Thunder (2008) | Valkyrie (2008)

When Tom stands still (or just dances and/or paces a stage), he can give very good supporting performances: think Tropic Thunder and Magnolia. He doesn’t cover much ground in these movies, but he does run away with them by giving off-brand showings as chauvinistic alpha-males who built empires by essentially becoming evil versions of Tom Cruise. Ever wondered if Maverick could deliver expletive-filled monologues or dance convincingly to a Ludacris song? Look no further than these two tragically sprint-free R-rated treasures.

It’s no surprise that this category has the lowest box-office numbers – zero running suggests little action, the lifeblood of most box-office–destroying blockbusters. Also, there is a high-risk, high-reward element for Cruise when he messes with his onscreen persona and plays against the action archetype. The rewards are Oscar and Golden Globe noms; the risks are smaller financial returns – Lions for Lambs and Valkyrie (in which he resists the urge to run, even as bombs go off) were Cruise’s lowest domestic grossers of the 2000s.

When Tom Takes a Short Sprint (1-500 feet)

  • Inflated International Box Office Average: $295 million
  • Tomatometer Average: 61.05%

Endless Love (1981) |Taps (1981) | Losin’ It (1983) | The Outsiders (1983) | Risky Business (1983) | Legend (1985) | Top Gun (1986) | The Color on Money (1986) | Rain Man (1988) | Cocktail (1988) | Days of Thunder (1990) | A Few Good Men (1992) | Far and Away (1992) | Interview With the Vampire (1994) | Jerry Maguire (1996) | Eyes Wide Shut (1999) | The Last Samurai (2003) | Rock of Ages (2012) | Jack Reacher (2012) | American Made (2017)

Almost half of the 41 Cruise movies we analyzed fall into this category of Some Running, But Not a Ton, and it’s worth nothing that 80% of these movies were released in the 1980s and 1990s. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Cruise hit his real running stride – not coincidentally at around the time the Mission: Impossible series kicked off. Pre-1996, it was mostly light jogging and moments of panicked sprinting in movies like Risky Business (438 feet) and Far and Away (496 feet). (Nobody sprint-panics like Running Tom Cruise).

It was in 1996 that we got one of our most iconic non–action-movie Tom Cruise Running scenes, as he dashes through the empty airport in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire. Most sport agents you probably know – because you know many, right? – would be huffing-and-puffing during a late-night airport dash, but Jerry looks effortless as he strides like a gazelle through the terminal. Tom, you had us at ready, set, hello.

This set of films cumulatively has the lowest Tomatometer average, showing that while we like Tom Cruise running, it cannot be a jaunt. The critics demand commitment.

When Tom Goes Middle-Distance (501-1,000 feet)

  • Inflated International Box Office Average: $411 million
  • Tomatometer Average: 61.625%

All the Right Moves (1983) | Born on the Fourth of July (1989) | Mission: Impossible (1996) | Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) | Vanilla Sky (2001) | Collateral (2004) | Knight and Day (2010) | Oblivion (2013)

Another great moment of 1996 Tom Cruise Running came with the franchise-spawning smash, Mission: Impossible. The Brian De Palma-helmed thriller really set the pace for Cruise’s days of thunderous running ahead. Remember the moment when Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt, uses explosive gum to blow a hole in a fish-tank–filled restaurant and escape his would-be-captors – on foot? We do, along with every other one of the 730-feet he ran in the film.

Five years later, another important milestone in Cruise’s running career came with Vanilla Sky. The film marked his second collaboration with Crowe and they celebrated their sophomore adventure with a longer and more complicated bit of running than we’d seen in their first effort: the Vanilla Sky production team shut down Times Square to create an eerily empty track meet for Cruise (the movie features a total of 832 feet of running). The film wasn’t as financially successful as Jerry Maguire (it made $292 million internationally, adjusted for inflation), but we almost Crowe bonus points for finally realizing the potential of giving Running Tom Cruise longer, bouncier locks.

Overall, a few bombs – Knight and Day, Oblivion – drive down this category, which includes some of Cruise’s most iconic, and acclaimed performances (M:I, All the Right Moves, Collateral).

When Tom Goes Full Tom (1,001-plus feet)

  • Inflated International Box Office Average: $538 million
  • Tomatometer Average: 71%

The Firm (1993) | Minority Report (2002) | War of the Worlds (2005) | Mission: Impossible III (2006) | Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) | Edge of Tomorrow (2014) | Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015) | Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) | The Mummy (2017)

The older Tom gets, the farther he runs, and the better his movies seem to be: Eight of the nine movies in this longest-distance grouping were released after 2002, and five of them were released after 2010 (The Firm is the only pre-2002 outlier). It was 2002’s Steven Spielberg-directed Minority Report that ushered in the 1,000-plus–feet era (1,562 feet ran), and trainer/director Spielberg upped the punishing routine in the 2005 blockbuster, War of the Worlds (1,752 feet). Watching Cruise evade aliens while thousands of slower non-Tom Cruises were turned into dust was impressive, but not surprising: Cruise’s indefatigable onscreen cardio had been built up over 24 years.

After War of the Worlds, Cruise reached a personal best in Mission: Impossible 3, which saw him running 3,212 feet, most of which were covered during some insane displays of athleticism (and Herculean camera work) through Shanghai. His movies since – like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2,200 feet), Edge of Tomorrow (1,022 feet), and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (1,007 feet) – have crossed the 1,000 feet mark, but they haven’t managed the wild lengths of his 2000s movies. Only Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol could match those movies’ step counts and box office success with 3,000-plus–feet of running and an $791 million international gross, adjusted for inflation.

The biggest snags in the More Running = Better Movies formula are Jack Reacher: Never Look Back and The Mummy. Both films featured abundant running (1,051 feet and 1,022 feet respectively), but both had unspectacular box office returns ($171 million and $425 million internationally) and critical receptions (Tomatometers of 37% and 15%).

More running = more money and more Freshness, but only most of the time.

Top Tom Cruise Movies (According to his pedometer)

  1. Mission: Impossible III – 3,212 feet
  2. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – 3,066 feet
  3. War of the Worlds – 1,752 feet
  4. Minority Report – 1,562 feet
  5. The Firm – 1,241 feet
  6. Edge of Tomorrow – 1,065 feet
  7. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – 1,051 feet
  8. The Mummy – 1,022 feet
  9. Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation – 1,007 feet
  10. Vanilla Sky – 832 feet

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in theaters July 27

Tag Cloud

classics Rocketman Sundance Now 45 screen actors guild nature documentary MSNBC free movies Comic Book GoT joker CBS All Access IFC documentaries Baby Yoda The Walt Disney Company Classic Film discovery romantic comedy Alien Polls and Games Reality Competition Emmy Nominations kaiju Musical Ellie Kemper Fall TV ITV fresh BET Awards cartoon films The Arrangement Hallmark 21st Century Fox spinoff TV One razzies Mystery reboot deadpool RT21 dramedy Elton John teaser Hulu CMT TCA 2017 doctor who 72 Emmy Awards TCA Disney+ Disney Plus BBC south america unscripted Sundance TV Martial Arts Biopics archives Nat Geo Rocky Awards Tour Broadway Pop TV book Film Festival Discovery Channel worst movies ratings monster movies franchise Paramount Plus jamie lee curtis richard e. Grant quibi christmas movies Tumblr dragons festival 2016 Super Bowl Emmys stand-up comedy facebook james bond Black Mirror tv talk See It Skip It pirates of the caribbean Arrowverse nbcuniversal canceled diversity Opinion obituary Video Games singing competition A&E technology Comedy Exclusive Video Pride Month Mary poppins black Best and Worst based on movie Character Guide screenings WarnerMedia TLC docudrama Fox News Amazon king kong stoner twilight Star Wars elevated horror japanese robots NBC YA series 2018 Apple TV+ El Rey a nightmare on elm street Paramount Network PaleyFest Set visit YouTube Red 2020 movie Masterpiece boxing Food Network directors 007 movies Turner Classic Movies Warner Bros. historical drama Interview adaptation FXX American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime Comics on TV IFC Films National Geographic Certified Fresh miniseries Christmas Fantasy Spike Star Trek SDCC Mindy Kaling ViacomCBS spanish language disaster First Reviews Pet Sematary Showtime CBS TCA Winter 2020 99% Calendar ABC Family political drama canceled TV shows TV Watching Series Song of Ice and Fire Netflix Superheroes fast and furious Photos women name the review green book chucky TV renewals children's TV Extras X-Men sequels hispanic RT History Shudder zombies Esquire Schedule Winners ESPN Musicals trailers Quiz Trophy Talk Spectrum Originals anime medical drama Pirates godzilla scorecard blaxploitation crossover Valentine's Day child's play rotten movies we love Legendary Marathons Tarantino Mudbound police drama cinemax 20th Century Fox Drama french die hard travel Cartoon Network streaming BET Lifetime Christmas movies strong female leads crime drama Kids & Family Year in Review supernatural Horror theme song social media VOD vampires BBC America serial killer Freeform OneApp sag awards TBS halloween FX Nickelodeon all-time Tubi animated ghosts TruTV DGA emmy awards Sci-Fi Western Lionsgate Endgame asian-american DC Universe Writers Guild of America 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards DirecTV TV Land 2019 comiccon Crackle Disney Plus casting Amazon Studios VH1 scary movies GLAAD foreign war TCM Captain marvel Comedy Central YouTube thriller slashers mockumentary critics game show best justice league CNN HBO Go Funimation GIFs parents The Purge golden globes hollywood sports SundanceTV cancelled TV shows award winner VICE Toys Cannes First Look USA spanish The Academy Creative Arts Emmys transformers harry potter indie NYCC breaking bad E! Ovation rom-coms versus italian Sundance TIFF Columbia Pictures video on demand popular MTV sequel 2021 Epix video New York Comic Con Pixar Apple Hallmark Christmas movies LGBTQ FOX venice spain The CW Music Shondaland kong Heroines BAFTA satire Sony Pictures Holiday Peacock revenge TCA Awards Britbox cooking Binge Guide psychological thriller laika Election science fiction Countdown cancelled game of thrones Television Critics Association Dark Horse Comics Vudu ID hist Turner stop motion toronto Crunchyroll dceu Amazon Prime boxoffice Marvel Studios period drama Academy Awards binge talk show universal monsters FX on Hulu Adult Swim criterion Sneak Peek Marvel Television Nominations space rotten Apple TV Plus USA Network Stephen King HBO cops 2017 werewolf WGN Paramount rt archives Trivia Acorn TV news comic Television Academy Ghostbusters San Diego Comic-Con telelvision Disney Channel Anna Paquin Infographic Cosplay natural history crime thriller Superheroe Mary Tyler Moore Thanksgiving cancelled TV series australia A24 spy thriller Pop Chilling Adventures of Sabrina romance The Witch dark Women's History Month Podcast independent Country Reality jurassic park Travel Channel psycho hidden camera cancelled television LGBT DC Comics Hear Us Out Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adventure Family prank 71st Emmy Awards YouTube Premium aliens latino reviews spider-man politics zombie dc dogs renewed TV shows 4/20 television Film crime docuseries SXSW History CW Seed HBO Max toy story ABC cats Avengers Black History Month indiana jones Marvel Fox Searchlight cults remakes Teen Tomatazos Brie Larson Disney streaming service comics sitcom festivals President Universal Rom-Com Oscars Rock true crime PBS worst Premiere Dates Trailer Grammys Animation Mary Poppins Returns cars biography Netflix Christmas movies ABC Signature Bravo anthology Red Carpet Action golden globe awards concert Box Office TNT DC streaming service comedies witnail mutant blockbusters mission: impossible what to watch finale Chernobyl zero dark thirty Syfy 24 frames Disney superman Summer batman Starz football Spring TV Logo Amazon Prime Video APB E3 comic books OWN superhero AMC kids nfl Lucasfilm Walt Disney Pictures blockbuster The Walking Dead Awards BBC One Holidays MCU 2015 composers halloween tv PlayStation Winter TV