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

Amazon Prime USA Extras National Geographic Academy Awards DC streaming service Rom-Com comic book movie boxing fresh comic 73rd Emmy Awards Apple TV+ SDCC E! APB PlayStation TCA 2017 Tubi slashers OWN USA Network hispanic Sundance FX on Hulu CBS All Access Film Festival superhero twilight Reality monster movies 4/20 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adenture casting hist NBC nbcuniversal cooking Peacock halloween tv 90s adventure concert nfl TV One Funimation TNT Kids & Family live event book adaptation BBC America dragons AMC Plus FXX mcc Universal Pictures 2019 child's play X-Men politics Exclusive Video kaiju aapi cartoon Sony Pictures movies romantic comedy foreign Animation Netflix Christmas movies saw joker Endgame Toys crossover mob Holiday royal family jurassic park black comedy TCA Winter 2020 mutant Mary poppins reviews Turner Classic Movies 72 Emmy Awards marvel cinematic universe 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards mockumentary Superheroes indiana jones canceled discovery Masterpiece popular GIFs Black History Month Britbox feel good El Rey anime Pixar Awards king kong 2017 toy story science fiction spanish language franchise Paramount Network Writers Guild of America First Reviews boxoffice children's TV dexter Action GoT LGBTQ Podcast Fox Searchlight Tarantino dceu San Diego Comic-Con Awards Tour Comedy Apple Paramount See It Skip It Video Games green book thriller rotten movies we love CBS heist movie know your critic universal monsters name the review Avengers Comics on TV worst movies Polls and Games YouTube technology The CW Grammys Ellie Kemper transformers documentaries zombie Mudbound Creative Arts Emmys E3 young adult social media Watching Series political drama romance crime drama Fantasy Adult Swim ITV Crackle news scene in color Trivia The Walt Disney Company Anna Paquin ABC Signature spider-verse comedies australia pirates of the caribbean reboot A&E streaming movies SXSW war Mystery Turner 2021 Captain marvel BET Sundance Now dc MTV Netflix SundanceTV international TCM films Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Musical cancelled television Syfy vs. MCU Hallmark Christmas movies Calendar debate AMC Family prank zombies docuseries mission: impossible HBO VOD Logo archives Image Comics Lifetime Christmas movies IFC rt labs critics edition 2015 Superheroe quibi worst Spring TV high school Teen Music Epix Cannes DC Comics screenings Amazon Studios die hard comiccon television WarnerMedia RT History women genre GLAAD sports free movies HBO Max Infographic Countdown historical drama Amazon 2016 cancelled TV shows Film TCA Reality Competition Esquire Character Guide TV Land TIFF hispanic heritage month razzies fast and furious Neflix french trailers criterion Vudu Lionsgate IMDb TV TBS FOX all-time scary movies BET Awards Nat Geo kong tv talk 2018 video on demand 99% Discovery Channel diversity crime Pacific Islander Pet Sematary venice blockbuster TCA Awards VICE witnail zero dark thirty comics Biopics Black Mirror unscripted miniseries facebook series serial killer golden globe awards blockbusters The Academy teaser festivals Fargo Comic Book parents crime thriller Arrowverse batman OneApp directors ViacomCBS Heroines Western The Arrangement basketball Marvel Studios independent LGBT singing competition hidden camera Legendary BAFTA Pop Musicals dreamworks BBC One Tumblr dogs hollywood PBS police drama Disney streaming service Amazon Prime Video stop motion renewed TV shows latino 21st Century Fox History supernatural TV renewals Women's History Month true crime anthology cinemax strong female leads critic resources Crunchyroll Christmas Rock cults justice league Song of Ice and Fire Set visit Year in Review Sundance TV Tomatazos Holidays werewolf YA ESPN dramedy Thanksgiving robots Rocketman rt labs game show nature game of thrones ABC Family theme song dark Television Critics Association Broadway spinoff YouTube Red what to watch DirecTV psychological thriller critics Acorn TV ID art house rt archives The Witch canceled TV shows DGA docudrama spanish CNN Paramount Plus wonder woman IFC Films action-comedy 24 frames Winter TV Baby Yoda target remakes Instagram Live scary suspense golden globes 2020 Bravo American Society of Cinematographers 1990s adaptation WGN 45 Walt Disney Pictures Disney+ Disney Plus Best and Worst DC Universe The Purge Comic-Con@Home 2021 emmy awards screen actors guild CW Seed talk show A24 BBC Hear Us Out 007 Ovation ghosts 71st Emmy Awards legend Marvel Marathons NYCC king arthur Columbia Pictures Super Bowl Trophy Talk VH1 rom-coms 93rd Oscars Mindy Kaling slasher stoner Election Photos Elton John psycho ABC period drama Rocky Dark Horse Comics Spectrum Originals Showtime Freeform Fox News laika Box Office Tokyo Olympics documentary 20th Century Fox cops vampires harry potter New York Comic Con binge aliens classics MSNBC breaking bad Disney Marvel Television deadpool Quiz Horror HBO Go new zealand Trailer NBA The Walking Dead stand-up comedy Alien trophy medical drama Television Academy based on movie finale sag awards Shondaland TV Valentine's Day gangster space new star wars movies richard e. Grant biopic Emmys Mary Poppins Returns black Ghostbusters First Look new york Stephen King sitcom Brie Larson video Classic Film Binge Guide telelvision RT21 sequels Warner Bros. leaderboard doctor who cars rotten spy thriller Travel Channel Disney Plus obituary japan superman spain streaming Pop TV jamie lee curtis south america cancelled Disney Channel toronto Opinion President elevated horror Cartoon Network Pirates Pride Month Hallmark marvel comics ratings Lifetime animated satire Fall TV asian-american Emmy Nominations TV movies Oscars cats football Starz indie live action Lucasfilm lord of the rings Cosplay christmas movies Martial Arts movie a nightmare on elm street Sneak Peek Wes Anderson Hulu Spike best Nominations composers Interview Shudder comic book movies cancelled TV series YouTube Premium Schedule TruTV revenge Sci-Fi Star Wars comic books kids sequel Drama italian spider-man PaleyFest versus natural history Winners scorecard halloween posters godzilla Chernobyl Mary Tyler Moore Food Network chucky Universal Country olympics Apple TV Plus book TLC travel Certified Fresh festival Star Trek japanese biography Nickelodeon award winner Comedy Central disaster Summer sopranos blaxploitation CMT Premiere Dates FX james bond Red Carpet