The eerily accurate Nikki Finke reports a pending peace treaty between Tom Cruise and Paramount made over a penitent dinner between the actor and Viacom honcho Sumner Redstone.
This comes at a time when Paramount is set to lose independent juggernaut Dreamworks SKG when its contract runs out and is hungry for the sort of franchise that Cruise and Mission: Impossible could provide.
Now while Tom's last Paramount film M:I3 made around $400 million around the world, it failed to make a profit (real or imagined) due to a massive budget, that went even bigger due to, according to many reports, the antics of its leading man. Tens of millions more were spent to market the film, digging an even deeper hole.
Tom is currently co-head with his manager Paula Wagner of the near moribund United Artist label for MGM, and so far things aren't looking up. Cruise's rather cynical attempt to win back the hearts of Hollywood's elite, the anti-war flick Lions for Lambs, only alienated the people whose opinions really mattered-- the general public. His next film, Valkyrie, is plagued with stories of production problems, budget overages, and a generally negative aura around the project despite the heroism of the source material.
Now if I was head of Paramount, I would think twice before bringing back Tom Cruise to revive Mission: Impossible. I'd reboot the whole franchise with a whole new star. My first choice would be Robert Downey Jr. His upcoming Paramount film Iron Man, has a lot of positive buzz with it and looks like it's going to be a big summer blockbuster. He also has something that Tom Cruise doesn't have: public goodwill. He's a classic comeback story, transforming from a talented, but tragic Hollywood train wreck, into a hard working actor. Americans love hard working comeback kids, plus, he hasn't humiliated himself in public with antics that keep late night comedians, and sketch shows with fresh material.
Plus, he will be waaaay cheaper than Cruise, and you'll be able to have a script built around the ensemble of the Mission: Impossible team rather than centring almost exclusively on the "star."
But I don't think they'll go for it. It might take a willingness to gamble that I don't think Paramount has right now.
Now I see an opportunity for MGM and the team that's seeking to revive the studio. They could trade Cruise back to Paramount, at Hollywood's equivalent of Checkpoint Charlie, which I think is outside Spago's. I suggest tossing in the Weinstein Company distribution deal in as well as a parting gift. Then MGM should lure the disaffected Dreamworks SKG people to defect over the wall to MGM, for a more equitable and profitable partnership via United Artists.
This will give MGM/UA the commercially viable productions it needs to fill its release schedule and generate revenue while they basically rebuild the company from scratch.
That's my 2 cents.