Box Office Tracking: A Pseudo-Science
How to measure the impact (positive or negative) of Tom Cruise's recent antics on the box office of War of the Worlds? There's no way of knowing how much it would have made if he'd remained his usual, cool, movie star self. My hypothesis has been that he won't keep many sci-fi/action/event fans away, but that women who don't usually go for that type of movie but will see Cruise in anything (even Vanilla Sky) might abandon him (not to in any way generalize an entire sex). So Monday morning, the number I'll be looking at won't be the overall gross, but the percentage of women who showed up.
Minority Report, which is obviously the most analogous release to War of the Worlds, had a surprisingly strong female turnout for a hardcore sci-fi movie on opening weekend: 48%. Compare that to Alien Vs. Predator's 30%, The Matrix Reloaded's 38%, Terminator 3's 40% or Revenge of the Sith's 42% (I wish I had more stats to offer, but demographic breakdowns are proving difficult to track down). Cruise had to account for some of that discrepancy. So if women don't make up at least 45% of War of the Worlds' weekend haul, I for one will take that as a sign of backlash against the star.