Paramount: Cruise is risky business
Film distribution giant ends 14-year relationship with actor's production company because of recent erratic behavior, says a report.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Paramount Pictures will end its longstanding relationship with Cruise/Wagner Productions, actor Tom Cruise's production company, citing his erratic behavior, according to a published report.
Sumner Redstone, CEO of Paramount owner Viacom (Charts), said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that appeared in Wednesday's edition that Cruise's controversial behavior over the last year - including advocating for Scientology and denouncing the use of antidepressant drugs - was the cause for the move.
The movie company is concerned that Cruise's behavior hurt his most recent film, "Mission: Impossible 3," said the report.
"As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Redstone was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."
A statement from Cruise/Wagner Productions tried to characterize the split as more of a mutual decision.
"Agents for Cruise/Wagner Production Company ceased negotiations with Paramount over a week ago and has since secured independent financing," said the spokesman for the firm.
Paula Wagner, Cruise's partner, told the Journal that Cruise/Wagner Productions had decided to set up its own independent operation, backed by two unnamed hedge funds. She also noted in her comments to the Journal that Cruise had made Paramount vast sums of money over the years.
Cruise has worked with Paramount on hit films such as "Mission: Impossible," "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder."
But speculation has been on the rise that Cruise, and mega-stars in general, are not worth the price, especially when personal behavior intrudes on their public persona.
Cruise has starred in 27 movies producing an average box office gross of $99.9 million, according to The-Movie-Times.com, an online Hollywood database.
The database estimates that the total gross of his movies has been $2.6 billion, good for No. 5 among all actors, as 13 of his films have done U.S. box office of $100 million or better. Only Tom Hanks, with 14 $100 million films, has done better.
In June 2006 Cruise took the No.1 spot on Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's 100 most powerful stars. In the last 10 years all but one of his movies have grossed more than $200 million worldwide. His top-grossing movie was "War of the Worlds" (2005), which topped $590 million around the world.
His pay has been among the tops in the industry. He received $75 million for "Mission Impossible II," according to Movie-Times.com. The film is his No. 2 best grossing film, with worldwide box office of $420.4 million.
But "Mission Impossible III," which came out in May, was seen as a disappointment, with a $47.7 million opening weekend at U.S. theaters, below the $65 million to $70 million that had been projected by some box office trackers. The film debuted in 4,054 theaters, the fourth largest debut to that point.
Still box office tracking service Box Office Mojo puts the worldwide gross of "Mission Impossible III" at $393 million.
"Internationally, Cruise is an even bigger draw," said Brandon Gray president and publisher of Box Office Mojo.
However Hollywood's highest accolade - an Oscar - has eluded Cruise, despite three acting nominations for his roles in "Magnolia", "Jerry Maguire" and "Born on the Fourth of July."
In May 2006, a USA/Today poll showed his public approval rating had slipped to 35 percent. Many of those polled cited his blunt criticism of actress Brooke Shield's treatment for depression and of psychiatry in general.
In 2005, he became the butt of jokes for a manic, couch-hopping TV appearance declaring his love for girlfriend Katie Holmes on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Reuters contributed to this report.