The television series of the same name, produced by Bruce Geller, serves as the inspiration for and continuation of the Mission: Impossible film series. The actor, Tom Cruise, who plays Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt in the movie franchise, is the primary producer. Incorporating musical themes from the Lalo Schifrin original series, the movies were filmed, scripted, and composed by various filmmakers and musicians. The series has been so popular and culminated in a worldwide total of over $4 billion; most audiences likely know it as a film series over a television show.
Update August 16, 2023: This article has been updated following the release of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
Seven movies from the Mission: Impossible series have been released thus far during a 27-year period. With the summer release of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and 2024’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, Ethan Hunt is still going against the odds to maintain world peace. Here is every entry in the Mission: Impossible ranked by the worldwide box office.
7 Mission: Impossible III — $398.4M
Despite being the film in the franchise that made the least revenue, Mission: Impossible III was the eighth highest-grossing film of 2006, earning just under $398.4 million. In the film, the assignment of his life awaits Special Agent Ethan Hunt, who is once again played by Cruise. Julia Meade, a nurse who is engaged to Ethan, but is ignorant of his actual profession, is played by Michelle Monaghan. To take on the elusive arms dealer Owen Davian, portrayed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who wants to sell a hazardous relic known as “The Rabbit’s Foot,” Ethan must once again work with a team of agents.
Despite being seen as a disappointment, it did help steer the franchise in a creative direction that it would build off onto future films and reach some of its biggest heights. Without Mission: Impossible III, the franchise might not be going now. Proof that sometimes it takes a bit of time for these investments to pay off.
6 Mission: Impossible — $457.7M
Roughly set six years after the 1988 television series’ end, the 1996 film Mission: Impossible follows the story of Ethan Hunt, who is blamed for the murder of his IMF crew after a bungled operation in Prague. Hunt is charged with giving a mysterious munitions dealer named Max access to national secrets. Ethan searches for the true traitor while on the run in order to clear his identity.
The first film in the franchise obviously did well enough to warrant more Mission: Impossible content, grossing $457.7 million at the global box office. This number is all the more impressive given this is not adjusted for inflation and in 1996 dollars.
5 Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – $522.9M
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the latest entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise, having hit theaters earlier this year in July. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One features many of the familiar faces from the franchise while also adding beloved actresses Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff as Grace and Paris, respectively.
While on paper, it is a commercial success at the box office, the latest installment in the Tom Cruise action vehicle is on the lower end of the spectrum regarding an overall return, thus implying audience fatigue. It also has the highest budget of any film in the franchise, meaning it is unlikely to break even at the box office. As of the time of this writing, it is the 5th highest-grossing film in the series worldwide. It likely could climb to number 4, but it will have an uphill battle from that point on. Nevertheless, the franchise is still among one of the most beloved, and with Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 2 already slated for a 2024 release, although the film did not finish filming and with the SAG-AFTRA and WGA Strikes, the movie might be delayed.
4 Mission: Impossible II — $546.3 M
Mission: Impossible II, which premiered in 2000 and played on 3,653 screens, had the most showings overall, according to IGN. It retained this distinction until 2001, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released on 3,672 screens. In Mission: Impossible II, Ethan Hunt works with skilled thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandiwe Newton) to identify and destroy a genetically engineered illness possessed by renegade Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), who is Nordoff-former Hall’s lover.
The movie expertly combines action and romance, allowing for a thoughtless escape from reality. In total, it grossed $546.3 million and, despite receiving some of the worst reviews of the franchise, it was until the release of Fallout, the highest-grossing film in the Mission: Impossible franchise at the domestic market, bringing in $215 million.
3 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation — $682.7 M
Following the dissolution of the IMF (Impossible Missions Force), Ethan Hunt and his crew are forced to fight with the Syndicate, an international black ops terrorist group made up of renegade government operatives from all over the world, while hiding from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Hunt gathers his squad in preparation for their mission: to establish the Syndicate’s existence and destroy the group by any means necessary. Actors Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, and Alec Baldwin co-star alongside Cruise.
Rogue Nation grossed an impressive $682.7 million worldwide. While a slight decrease from its predecessor, the fact it earned almost equally to it and received positive reviews showed that this franchise was here to stay. The perception of the film also was helped by the fact that Fantastic 4 opened the week after and bombed so badly, giving the film a second weekend at the number 1 spot at the box office, showing how successful the brand was.
2 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol — $694.7M
While pursuing a person only known as Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist), Ethan and the whole IMF is falsely accused of bombing the Kremlin in the 2011 film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. To stop Cobalt from triggering a world nuclear war, Hunt and three other agents — played by Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton — are left to fight for humanity.
The consensus of critics on Rotten Tomatoes described the movie as “stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces,” calling it a “big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works,” proving it is well worth the number-two spot it received and grossing $694.7 million. Before the movie, it seemed the franchise might be on its way out, but this film proved it was just starting to find itself, and audiences could not get enough of it.
1 Mission: Impossible – Fallout — $791 M
So far, the highest-grossing film in the Mission: Impossible franchise is 2018’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout, sitting at $791 million. The movie tells the story of the Apostles, a terrorist organization founded by former operatives of the rogue group known as the Syndicate. The Apostles pose a serious threat to the globe after an IMF mission to collect plutonium fails. The CIA starts to doubt Ethan Hunt’s commitment and motivations when he decides to carry out the initial operation on his own. The movie received positive reviews for its action scenes, Christopher McQuarrie’s direction and writing, and the cast performances.
Due to the rising box office of Mission: Impossible – Fallout from the previous film, many were expecting Dead Reckoning Part One to do the same. That is one reason why the latest film is seen as such a disappointment, as it is coming right off the franchise’s biggest hit.
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