Cruise and partner to resurrect United Artists
Just months after being dumped by Paramount, Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner have been put in charge of another Hollywood studio.
MGM hired them to resurrect United Artists, the film studio formed by a group ofHollywood actors, including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, and which now is an MGM holding.
Wagner has been named chief executive of the studio, which initially will make four films a year.
Cruise will help control the United Artistsproduction slate and appear in UA films. He also will be allowed to star in films from rival studios, MGM said Thursday.
"The talent-friendly studio will be reborn as a place where producers, writers, directors and actors can thrive in a creative environment," MGM said in the statement.
The last time Cruise appeared in a UA film was 1988, when he played the yuppie brother to the autistic Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, which won a best picture Oscar.
The development is a major comeback for Cruise and Wagner, who were cut from their production role at Paramount this August after 14 years amid a bitter dispute with its chairman.
Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount parent Viacom Inc., was publicly critical of Cruise, saying hisoff-screen antics had hurt the box office performance of films such as Mission: Impossible III.
An artist-centred company
United Artists was founded in 1919 by Chaplin, Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith.
The studio operated as an artist-centred company and created hit films such as Some Like It Hot and some films in the early James Bond franchise, including 1962's Dr. No. The studio has also had some notorious flops, including 1980's Heaven's Gate.
In 1967 Transamerica bought UA and in 1981 it was bought by MGM.
Cruise and Wagner have taken an ownership interest in UA, MGM said, but did not release financial details.
Earlier this week, Redstone was still criticizing Cruise in the press, sayingthe star had to be dropped because hewas "embarrassing the studio."
He also admitted that warnings from his wife helped him decide Cruise was more a liability than an asset.
"Paula, like women everywhere, had come to hate him," Redstone said.
"His behaviour was entirely unacceptable to Paula and to the rest of the world. He just didn't turn one [woman] off. He turned off all women, and a lot of men."
Cruise has been much in the news with his romance with Katie Holmes and the birth of their baby Suri, and he continues as one of Hollywood's most bankable stars.
Mission: Impossible III has earned more than $390 million US worldwide.