No matter what happened last weekend, you’ll likely have Tom Cruise to kick around for years to come. But what did happen exactly? And is a $48 million first-weekend gross really such a tremendous disappointment?

The average analysis notes that M:I3 opened softer than its predecessors, which earned the equivalent of $67 and $70 million on their opening weekends — and on fewer screens. The conclusion reached by the armchair handicapper: “Tom Cruise blew it.” In other words, his Year of Weirdness killed his box office clout.

Maybe. But if that’s the case, then wouldn’t we have seen a steeper dropoff in female audience? Didn’t happen. Oh, and, by the way, M:I3 will almost certainly coast past $100 million — that makes seven straight $100 million pictures for Cruise. (Also: The picture opened $70 million-huge overseas, meaning Cruise is still one of the few global film stars.)

So is this a massive public relations flameout, a leggy Batman Begins-style slow-burn (as Paramount would have you believe), or just natural (and not exactly fatal) trilogy-itis? You tell me. Oh, and getting back to what’s really important: Doesn’t Katie Holmes look slender?

addCredit(“Tom Cruise: Dimitrios Kambouris/”)