Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tom Cruise Stars In Hollywood Versus The Indies

What's wrong with Hollywood? I don't mean the place - that's a hole and no mistake. Stinks and everything.

I'm asking what's wrong with the collection of movie studios we collectively name after the location where many of them are or were?

People don't like Hollywood, do they? Look at Tom Cruise. He is pretty much the public face of that much-hated monster. His teeth, his eyes, his tan, his shades, each of them virtually an icon of all that is repeatedly slated in the American movie industry (and all this despite him being in one of the best American films of the last ten years/the most subversive studio film since Vertigo - Vanilla Sky).

I like Hollywood. It's where many of the greatest films in the history of cinema were made. Billy Wilder worked in Hollywood. Alfred Hitchcock. Arthur Penn. Orson Welles. Terry Gilliam. John Lasseter. Hal Ashby. Stanley Kubrick. Tim Burton. Chuck Jones. I could go on and on and on and on...

It's the place where filmmaking advances from around the world gather, and advance even further.

I'm pretty much alone in thinking this way, though. Many of the great directors I listed above would disagree, even though they are (living) proof that I have a point.

At the end of July, Tom Cruise's production deal with Paramount expired. Now, The Wall Street Journal have reported that negotiations faltered and the deal was not renewed. Well, congratulations Cruise - you're no longer the face of Hollywood, you're the face of American Indie Cinema.

I dare say another studio might offer Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner a replacement deal, but even if they don't, the films that the pair produce are doubtlessly going to get picked up by the studios for distribution when ready.
Cruise's recent public behaviour might be... offputting... to say the least, but his star is only tarnished, not extinguished. He's looking like a prize coconut, but he's still the most bankable movie star out there - if there even is such a thing.

From a selfish point of view, I like the idea of Cameron Crowe having independent producers to greenlight his films, and the studios picking them up later, for distribution. At the very least, it might mean the greenlight comes on sooner, or more often.

This Paramount/Cruise parting of the ways is hardly news, if you ask me. Nothing's going to change much at all - not as concerns the subject matter or quality of films produced by either Paramount or Cruise and Wagner. Inevitably, people are enjoying Cruise's apparent fall from grace, and that, not the business deal, is the real interest in this story for most.

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