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How Tom Cruise Is Turning Into 90's Era Bruce Willis With A Tentpole-Era Twist

Image from ‘Jack Reacher,’ courtesy of Paramount

Jack Reacher 2 (or whatever it’s going to be called) has been officially slotted for October 21st, 2016 courtesy of Paramount/Viacom Inc. The film is of course a sequel to Jack Reacher, which earned a solid $217 million worldwide on a $60m budget. The film sticks out as the first sequel that Tom Cruise has ever made outside of the ongoing Mission: Impossible films. And as Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation races towards $500m worldwide with copious more cash to be collected here and abroad, the last ten years or so of Mr. Cruise’s career, as well as the next ten years, is coming into view. The days of films like Jerry Maguire making $153m domestic are long gone. But the would-be third act and/or fourth act of Tom Cruise’s career seems to be a case of small-scale movies making what money they can while a periodic Mission: Impossible movie drops every half-decade or so to reaffirm Cruise’s overall box office bankability. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how Bruce Willis played it in the 1990′s. He made a wide variety of films during the 1990′s, with the “get out of jail free” card of a new Die Hard sequel for 20th Century Fox always available in his back pocket for an emergency.

If you look at the sheer number and variety of films that Bruce Willis pumped out between 1990 (Die Hard 2: Die Harder) and 2007 (Live Free or Die Hard), you’ll find any number of mid-sized hits and giant flops. The five-year run between Die Hard 2 and Die Hard 3 offered us the good (Pulp Fiction, Nobody’s Fool), the bad (Bonfire of the Vanities, Color of Night), and the ugly (Last Boy Scout, Striking Distance). Some of these films were moderate hits, some were uber-flops. But Bruce Willis was able to make these varied star vehicles both because Hollywood allowed it during the 1990′s...