Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders in “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.” | Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

‘Jack Reacher’ franchise a mission possible for Tom Cruise

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SHARE ‘Jack Reacher’ franchise a mission possible for Tom Cruise

Forget the last part of the title “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.”

Because if star Tom Cruise can ride the second Jack Reacheraction movie (now in theaters) to success, hewill surely “go back”— just as Cruise has done as spy Ethan Hunt in his $2.7 billion franchise “Mission: Impossible,” for which he shoots his sixth film next year.

Add to this mix Cruise’s starring role in the reboot ofthe “Mummy”series, which just finished filming for a June 9release, and the megastar’s emergingfranchise planis clear.

“This is the wave of the future for Cruise,” says Dave Karger,movie contributor at “Access Hollywood.” “Ethan Hunt and now Jack Reacher are the firstcharacters he hasplayed more than oncein his career. It’s a new, ongoingdevelopment.”

Cruise originally playedthe former military police investigatorfrom author Lee Child’sbest-selling novels in 2012’s “Jack Reacher.” The well-received filmmade a respectable $218 million worldwide —but far less than Cruise’s “M:I”films, which have averaged $450 million each.

Even Karger was “initially surprised” to see a “Reacher” follow-up underway in 2013, showing the emerging franchise push.Don Granger, who producedboth the “M:I”and “Reacher” films, says it’s “impossible” to compare the franchises monetarily:2015’s “Mission: Impossible —Rogue Nation” had a $150 millionproduction budget, whileReacher was shot for a comparatively moderate$60 million.

“One of the joys ofa ‘Reacher’ movie is making it for a fraction of the cost of larger, effects-driven movieslike ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ” says Granger, who notes that “JackReacher”went on to be “wildly successful” in post-release distribution around the world, includingpay-per-view anddigital downloads. “Making another one was a happy decision everyone came to.”

The movie’s ongoing successhas familiarized a largeraudience with Reacher, says Granger,ensuring variety by serving as a strong contrast to “M:I’s” Hunt.

Hunt works with a team of top-secret agents, uses high-tech devices and thrivesin black-tie settings. Hunt’s safehouses are more luxurious than the motels thatlonerReacher checks into while hitchhiking around the country, brawling with his fists inthe same simple outfits.

“There are attributes in Jack Reacher you’ll never see in Ethan Hunt,” Granger says. “You’re never going to confuse the two.”

With “M:I 6”in the works, “The Mummy”already positioned asone of the most anticipated 2017films and producer Jerry Bruckheimer actively developing a possible sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun” that would bring back Cruise’s iconic Maverick role, the actor’snear future willfeatureregular returns to audience-belovedcharacters.

“Never Go Back” director Edward Zwick foreseesa possible Reacher“anthology” with Cruise rolling intodifferent towns and stories. Childhas 20novels to date for source material; the next, “Night School,” is out in November.

“And it’s a character [Cruise] can continue to play for a number of years—that obviously has appeal,” Zwick says.

Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

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