Tom Cruise: the very name conjures up immediate images of his many iconic roles: the young kid sliding across the floor in his underwear in Risky Business; the cocky fighter pilot Maverick in Top Gun; Vietnam vet Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July; the sports agent with a conscience in Jerry Maguire; the exasperated brother of Dustin Hoffman's autistic savant in Rain Man; the high-flying hero of the Mission: Impossible franchise. And countless other indelible performances.
Cruise has long been identified as the very definition of a movie star and box office champion. But 2012 was not as kind to him as previous years have been. In 2011, the end of the year release Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol enjoyed a strong and steady performance in theaters. This past June, the musical ensemble comedy Rock of Ages opened in third place with barely $14.5 million. And this past weekend, Jack Reacher came in second with just $15.6 million. All in all, a far cry from the type of figures he used to put up on the board.
Let's look at some quick box office stats. Cruise has appeared in 37 movies since his first role in Endless Love in 1981. Of those:
— 21 have opened at No. 1.
— 17 films to earn over $100 million at the domestic box office!
— He had 5 consecutive $100 million plus earners, from A Few Good Men (1992) to Jerry Maguire (1996).
— He had 8 consecutive $100 million plus earners, from Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) to Mission: Impossible III (2006).
— His highest grossing film in North America is War of the Worlds (2005), with $234.3 million.
— He had an unprecedented streak of 15 consecutive No. 1 wide release debuts starting with A Few Good Men (1992) and ending with Tropic Thunder (2008)!
— His total North American box office revenues total nearly $3.5 billion!This is an incredible career track record, virtually unmatched by any other major star. Yet it appears that since 2007's Lions For Lambs (which opened in fourth place with $6.7 million), Cruise's career has not been the model of consistency that it was in the past. Of recent years, only Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was a breakout hit, earning $209.4 million. Additionally, only one other film in the group of seven since 2006's Mission: Impossible 3 was able to crack the $100 million mark (the ensemble driven Tropic Thunder).
So what does this mean for Cruise? Is he " over"? Are audiences more interested in concepts than movie stars? What does the future hold for his career? Does the world only want to see him in Mission: Impossible movies?
These are all valid questions in light of the less than stellar results for his latest two films. However, lest anyone try to count Tom Cruise out, keep in mind that at age 50, he is as tireless and tenacious as anyone working in film today. It will be his next several projects — including sci-fi adventures like All You Need Is Kill and Oblivion — that may ultimately provide the answer to all of the above questions. At this point we are not ready to count Tom Cruise out. What do you think?
[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
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In the 1989 film, which earned Cruise an Oscar nod, the actor plays Ron Kovic, a brave U.S. soldier who was paralyzed while fighting in the Vietnam War.
The pair developed a lasting friendship on set and now the movie icon, who turns a year older just one day prior (03Jul12) to Kovic, honours the veteran's special Independence Day birthday (04Jul12) with a floral bouquet to let the ageing hero know he's thinking of him.
Yet Cruise's kind gesture doesn't go unnoticed - Kovic always reciprocates.
Speaking to the New York Post last week (04Jul12), Kovic said, "Tom turned 50, so I sent 50 red roses to his office... and at my hotel room we received a knock on the door this morning, and Tom had sent me nearly three dozen roses.
"We've never missed that tradition in the past 22 years. Ever since the movie came out, we've shared birthdays by sending each other flowers."
When it comes to box office Tom Cruise is a true force of nature: 33 films over 30 years, $3.2 billion in domestic box-office, Sixteen films over $100 million, Eight consecutive number one debuts, eight consecutive films to gross over $100 million and ten films that were among the top five films in their year of release. If that’s not enough to convince the cynical of this guy’s incredible impact on the movie industry, in 1996 he proved his value as both and action star and a romantic lead with the one-two punch of the first “Mission: Impossible” film in May followed by “Jerry Maguire” in December; these became respectively the third and fourth highest grossing films of that year, a nearly incomprehensible feat that showed the star to be in complete control of his career and at the height of his powers.
With numerous personal and professional highs and lows, a falling out with his adoring public and a recent reinvention and redemption, one of the biggest stars of all-time has come full circle. From teen idol in “Taps,” “The Outsiders” and of course the career-changing “Risky Business” to full blown movie star in “Top Gun,” Cruise quickly established himself as the biggest box-office draw in the free world with an almost preternatural ability to draw crowds to the multi-plex. Over the years he has aligned himself with a who’s who of the best directors in the business and big box-office followed. Kubrick, Spielberg, Scorsese, Levinson, Stone, Abrams, Howard, DePalma, Crowe, Mann, Scott, Jordan, Woo and Pollack all clamored to work with Cruise who seemingly put everything he had into every role and often played against type to full advantage.
As Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July,” for which Cruise was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor, Cruise (under Oliver Stone’s direction) transformed himself from pretty boy star to serious actor and made believers out of many of his critics. Films like “Rain Man,” “The Color of Money,” “A Few Good Men,” “Interview with the Vampire, “Magnolia,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Minority Report,” “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Collateral” proved there was almost nothing the star could not do if he committed to it and when aligned with the right creative team.
Perhaps more than any other career move, his decision to play the balding, paunchy, loud and obnoxious Les Grossman in the 2008 hit “Tropic Thunder” was pivotal in redefining his public image and proving that the guy is still one hell of a dancer. Most recently at the MTV Movie awards he busted out in the full Grossman persona and was the hit of the show.
This now leads us to Twentieth Century Fox’s release on Wednesday of the action comedy “Knight and Day” which reunites Cruise with “Vanilla Sky” co-star Cameron Diaz in a film that combines action, comedy and romance into one complete package. After positive sneaks of the film this past weekend it will be interesting to see how the film, directed by James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma,” “Cop Land”) performs this week and into the upcoming weekend.
Tom Cruise continues his truly extraordinary career while simultaneously creating an indelible impression on the business as a whole, the very definition of celebrity and what it means to be a movie star and controversial public figure.
Moviemaker Oliver Stone has debuted a new hard-hitting political ad against the war in Iraq, using a former sergeant as his star.
The Platoon director filmed John Bruhns pleading to military officials to pull soldiers out of Iraq as part of a new 30-second TV ad, sponsored by the MoveOn.org political action group.
Bruhns, who fought in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, says, "We were told to liberate these people. They were shooting at us... To keep American soldiers in Iraq for an indefinite period of time, being attacked by an unidentifiable enemy, is wrong, immoral and irresponsible."
Paralyzed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, the author of Born on the Fourth of July, which inspired Stone's anti-war film of the same name, supplies a brief voice-over in the TV spot, stating, "Support our troops. Bring them home."
The new ad aired on CNN last night.
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It's been a long time since John Lennon was gunned down in front of apartment building in New York City and even longer since Richard Nixon held office but U.S. vs. John Lennon focuses on how the then U.S. president tried to pull out all stops to discredit the famous Beatle and get him thrown out of the country. Ironically although three decades old this story seems like a fairly timely indictment on the Bush administration as it looks at how right-wing fanatics label anti-war protestors as un-American even though free speech is what this country is founded on as Lennon points out. Nixon's henchman J. Edgar Hoover tried drumming up all sorts of smut on Lennon. He and Yoko Ono were bugged followed threatened and nearly deported. Along the way Lennon became a bit paranoid and myopic even as he was opening his life to the press and offering interviews while in bed. Some of the more important pundits during the Vietnam War era are trotted out to give some perspective. Injured war veteran Ron Kovic Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein protestor Angela Davis writer Gore Vidal and a mellow Bobby Seale are among those who talk about what the world was like in the 1970s the end of the hippie era and the crackdown by the government. For the conservative side the only voice heard is G. Gordon Liddy Nixon’s former White House staff who comes across as creepy and unsympathetic and even criticizes the Kent State shooting victims as students who got in the way and should have known what was coming. Some of the most fascinating moments are the footage from Ono’s private vault showing Lennon as a passionate and often angry guy who was alternately confused and amused by anger directed at him for preaching peace. Filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld offer a very biased viewpoint as they play heavily on the anti-war images and how it is relevant today. They don’t really explore any of Lennon's troubles with the break-up of the Beatles or the criticism of Ono which were going on around the same time. No U.S. vs. John Lennon is about one thing and one thing only: Lennon’s public fight to keep his visa and remain in the U.S. while exercising his right to protest. The documentary is illuminating timely and almost as frightening as Al Gore's global warming Inconvenient Truth. There’s Lennon on the Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas shows as well as footage of the ex-Beatle being attacked by a reporter which he handled with a bemused calmness. Although it isn't as dire or as apocalyptic U.S. vs. John Lennon is just as important. Lennon ultimately did give peace a chance.