News

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

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