Paramount will release the fifth installment of their blockbuster Mission: Impossible franchise, Rogue Nation, next month, and it's safe to say that the studio is very confident in their investment. Obviously, coming off the forward momentum from 2011's Ghost Protocol, the film was expected to be a big box office hit, but word that a sixth M:I feature is already in the works just added to the feeling director Christopher McQuarrie had done something special with his take on the IMF.
As it turns out, Paramount's faith wasn't misguided. The film was recently screened for test audiences and the response was very enthusiastic. In fact, some might say that the reaction was more favorable than Brad Bird's Ghost Protocol, which was one of the high marks for the series, critically speaking (read our review).
Count Skydance Productions COO Dana Goldberg among those ranks. Speaking with Collider, she expressed great enthusiasm for their tentpole:
"It’s a phenomenal movie and I think I’m officially allowed to say that we tested even higher than 'Ghost Protocol.' There’s not a lot of times in your life, you dream about them, but those moments you go to a preview screening and everybody’s there, your director, your star, the studio, you sit there and from the second the movie starts, you’re just like ‘oh, this feels really, really good’. It feels that way from top to bottom, and then they walk in and they tell you what the audience thought and it felt even better to the audience than it did to you, and that’s how we felt in Arizona a couple weeks ago."
Granted, test audience reactions to a film don't always lead to the best results (see: I Am Legend), but in this case it's a very positive sign. After Paramount made the decision to bump up the release date by five months (to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Force Awakens), some feared that Rogue Nation (which was rushed through post-production) would suffer due to the shortened amount of time McQuarrie had to put the movie together. As it turns out, the filmmaker seems to have performed coolly under pressure and churned out another winning adventure for Ethan Hunt and his team.
If anything, this kick starts the word-of-mouth in the movie's favor, and will only build up more hype for what was already a highly-anticipated sequel. Considering the reaction remains this strong in the weeks leading up to its release, it will be interesting to see how Rogue Nation performs at the box office. This year has already been a record-shattering year at the multiplex, with Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Jurassic World (three other mega blockbuster sequels) crossing the $1 billion plateau during their theatrical runs, feats that in some cases were very surprising. The chances of Rogue Nation pulling that off as well are slim, but if it's seen as a grand spectacle, it will bring in the big bucks for sure.
How much it grosses remains to be seen, but the test screening is a step in the right direction for a major haul. Part of why films like Jurassic World were able to make so much money in a quick period of time is because they were so well-received from pundits and audiences alike. From the sound of it, Rogue Nation may be able to replicate its tentpole brethren in that way at least, setting up the summer movie season for a rousing finish.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation will be in theaters July 31, 2015.