Top 10 Film Industry News Stories of 2005: #5: Tom Cruise's Crazy Year
By Michael Bentley
December 29, 2005
Extra! Extra! Tom Cruise Jumps On a Couch, Becomes a Psychiatry Expert, and Loses Sanity!
"I'm in love! I'm in love!" By now, unless you've been living underneath a rock or were stranded on a remote island paradise with polar bears and secret hatches, you're undoubtedly familiar with Hollywood icon Tom Cruise's couch-jumping incident on the Oprah Winfrey show back in May. That is where the twice-married Cruise declared his love for actress Katie Holmes. The act created a surreal media sensation that had his fans joking and laughing, his publicist cringing, and bloggers everywhere dancing with glee...and that was just the beginning.
There was plenty to be suspicious and cynical about TomKat, as the media dubbed the pair. After all, in what was surely just a small coincidence, both Cruise and Holmes had major summer-event movies being released just weeks apart this year: he in War of the Worlds and she in Batman Begins. Was it a ruse? Was the whole love affair a clever marketing ploy? Could something as pure as love be fabricated? Many in the entertainment news world were coolly predicting that the romance would soon fizzle and probably wouldn't last beyond, say, the time that War of the Worlds left the multiplex theaters. Others were even suggesting that Tom was paying Katie to be his beard.
But as the summer wore on, the situation began to get even more bizarre. Cruise, being the devout Scientologist that he is, began to increase his public statements and awareness about his sometimes-controversial religion. Reports even began to surface that Katie had converted. And with this devotion to his faith, Cruise began to go on rants about the evils of pharmaceuticals. Most notably, he slammed fellow thespian Brooke Shields about her prior statements concerning her use of therapy and anti-depressant medication.
The excitement crescendoed when Tom appeared on The Today Show for an interview with Matt Lauer. During a relatively civil - yet heated - exchange, Lauer confronted Cruise about his recent behavior, including his comments about Shields. In the interview, Cruise presented himself as a learned scholar in the science and art of psychology by proclaiming himself a de facto expert in the field. He was persistent and adamant in his dislike for all drugs, especially Ritalin for children, and downplayed any thoughtful responses or anecdotal experiences that Lauer offered. The exchange culminated with this now-classic response from Cruise: "No, you see. Here's the problem. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."
The big question (well, other than "what in the world is the loon going to do next?") was "how is all this going to affect the box office of their respective movies?" Well, most would agree that Holmes had little impact on Batman Begins and business likely would have been the same no matter who was in her minor role. But War of the Worlds was a whole other ballgame. Even legendary director Steven Spielberg began to publicly question Cruise and wondered if his antics were distracting attention from the actual movie that he was supposed to be promoting (after all, his appearance on Today was supposed to be a shill for it). Of course, ever since Cruise danced around to "Old Time Rock and Roll" in his tighty whiteys in Risky Business he has been on the short list of actors who can pretty much guarantee profit for a movie studio. He has often been considered one of the Sexiest Men Alive and honed his skills over the years to become a very versatile actor, receiving nominations for three Academy Awards.
The conventional wisdom at the beginning of 2005 was that Spielberg plus Cruise in a big-budget alien picture was as close to a sure thing as you can possibly get. But with a surge of malcontent raging, some analysts began to wonder: can Tom Cruise hurt a film's box office? The movie's take was respectable: nearly $80 million in the July 4th frame and $113 million over its first six days. It maxed out at $234 million for its cumulative domestic gross. Certainly a healthy figure and, as of the time of this report, it is third for the 2005 year. Could it have been more? Would it have been more? Of course we will never know, but many eyes will be closely tracking the performance of Cruise's next movies. He is still near the top of the A-List, though that can change in a hurry. (Michael Jackson, anyone?)
Now TomKat are engaged and expecting a baby. And though the firestorm of the summertime has cooled off, Cruise continued to draw ridicule when he recently purchased his own personal sonogram machine for Katie and their unborn spawn. This prompted some to suggest that we just don't know ultrasounds like he does. Many others asked, what will he do next?
In our investigation of this story, we interviewed a crazy disheveled man on the street who was dressed completely in fur from his head to his feet, had a pipe, a big white beard, and a little round belly that shook when he laughed. He also claimed to be Tom Cruise. His only response to our questions was, "You're glib." Further calls to Cruise and his publicist have gone unanswered.
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