The mixed energy of Barbie and Oppenheimer renewed the film trade with a sort of zeitgeisty pleasure for big-screen leisure that was so palpable it was… just a little scary. “Barbenheimer” felt like a once-in-a-generation second — so how would the film studios maintain delivering? Within the wake of WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes that each one however halted the momentum, as studio executives waffled over particulars and their very own existential content material disaster, the reply, it appears, comes from 2022 as an alternative of 2023: Tom Cruise.
After flirting with franchise work with Common’s Darkish Universe and doing an OK job with the Jack Reacher sequence (although he has now been out-beefed by Alan Ritchson’s model on Prime Video), Cruise lastly discovered his footing in trendy franchise-hungry Hollywood simply earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic cratered motion pictures in 2020. Mission: Inconceivable – Fallout helped Cruise’s 20-year spy franchise hit a brand new excessive in 2018, and when his long-desired revival High Gun: Maverick lastly hit theaters, the sequel, as Steven Spielberg would later exalt, saved motion pictures. Whereas Mission: Inconceivable – Lifeless Reckoning Half One didn’t attain the identical heights in 2023, it nonetheless cemented Cruise as a bona fide film star in a sea of superhero wannabes. And because the Marvel mojo fades, Cruise — who famously turned down the position of Iron Man again within the 1990s — has the final snort. Proper now, everybody needs a bit of him.
On Tuesday, Warner Bros. Photos introduced it had shaped a “strategic partnership” with Cruise, who would arrange store on Warner’s Los Angeles lot with a purpose to develop authentic and franchise-friendly initiatives wherein he can star. There have been no motion pictures introduced as a part of the pact, which in a uncommon transfer is non-exclusive and doesn’t embody any first-look stipulations. However Cruise is not any stranger to WB; the star most just lately labored with the studio on 2014’s Fringe of Tomorrow, which has been the topic of sequel discuss for years, and arguably did his finest work as an actor underneath the banner in movies like Magnolia, Eyes Vast Shut, and Interview with the Vampire. Lestat legacyquel? The Final Final Samurai? Rock of Ages: Now with Extra Leather-based? The chances are infinite.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Tom, an absolute legend within the movie trade,” stated Warner Bros. movement image group co-chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy in a public joint assertion. “Our imaginative and prescient, from day one, has been to rebuild this iconic studio to the heights of its glory days, and, in truth, after we first sat down with David Zaslav to speak about becoming a member of the Warner Bros. Discovery workforce, he stated to us, ‘We’re on a mission to deliver Warner Bros. again — we’ve the most effective assets, storytelling IP, and expertise within the enterprise — and we have to deliver Tom Cruise again to Warner Bros!’ Right this moment, that turns into a actuality and we’re one step nearer to attaining our ambition.”
Picture: Paramount Photos
WB just isn’t the one studio playing on what it sees as a revival of the film star second — and Cruise being one of many solely stars left standing. On Friday, phrase broke that Paramount was actively in growth with the actor on High Gun 3, with Maverick author Ehren Kruger again penning the screenplay and director Joseph Kosinski at the very least calling some photographs as a producer. The plan, as reported by Deadline, can be to deliver again the workforce established in Maverick, with Cruise within the cockpit and co-stars Miles Teller and Glen Powell again for banter. If it occurs, I cannot eat a shoe.
Each the Warner Bros. and Paramount bulletins arrived with a reminder that Cruise nonetheless has an enormous film arrange at a 3rd studio, Common Photos. At the moment untitled, the space-set thriller shall be directed by Fringe of Tomorrow’s Doug Liman and produced with the assistance of NASA, which is able to aide Cruise in changing into the primary actor to do an precise spacewalk for a function movie. The reported price ticket: $200 million.
It’s unclear what classes the studios discovered from the one-two punch of Barbie and Oppenheimer. Clearly there’s an viewers for motion pictures that aren’t run-and-gun fantasies starring getting older dudes who “love the push.” Possibly a considerate Bratz reboot and a large-scale Leonardo da Vinci biopic will spring up within the years to come back. However proper now, as studios hustle to seek out that means in a viewing world fragmented by streaming providers, vacated by weekly superhero releases, and utterly disrupted by the fluff of TikTok, Cruise nonetheless has the glow. Which interprets to playing billions on the star’s adrenaline-pumping imaginative and prescient of cinema.
So if the reply to theatrical leisure is as soon as once more film stars, will the studios additionally mint new ones? The coup of High Gun Three is perhaps locking down Cruise for yet another trip earlier than he hits the obligatory retirement age for USAF fight fighter pilots, however to any studio execs listening: Glen Powell is true there. Powell, who’s quietly carrying the Sony rom-com Anybody However You to post-holiday success and has the celebrated Richard Linklater comedy thriller Hit Man ready within the wings for launch later this yr, has the chops to guide, however after his breakout in High Gun: Maverick, rumors swirled that he would possibly play Booster Gold in a DC film for James Gunn. Certain, it’s a dwelling, however trying from the surface, the one factor stopping Powell from rising into the Subsequent Tom Cruise appears to be… a studio fascination with Tom Cruise.
Cruise is bound to ship, pumping out thrill rides till his legs give out, however the greater query swirling round these mega-deals: Who shall be allowed to take over?