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

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