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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tom Cruise's Public Firing from Paramount's Lot

Last week's No. 1 box office draw at American cinemas New Line Cinema's Snakes on a Plane, lost altitude this weekend falling to sixth place with $6.4 million, a steep 58% dive according to studio estimates Sunday.

Before the launch, Snakes on a Plane got a lot of attention because of Internet buzz , but the movie failed to live up to expectations. Starring Samuel L. Jackson as a federal agent battling killer snakes on a redeye (late evening) flight, the movie had taken in $26.5 million in 10 days.

Too many of today's' movies are rubbish and studios are hurting. That was the principal reason that Tom Cruise was ejected from the Paramount Pictures' lot last Tuesday, rather than because he had made an ass of himself in PR terms in the past year, in particular in his avid evangelism of Scientology that was founded by a science-fiction writer. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel last year, Cruise lashed out after the reporter suggested that Scientology was a pseudoscience.

Cruise had a production company based at Paramount for a cost of $10 a year. Even so, he made an estimated $80 million from Mission Impossible III, through a cut of gross revenues of more than 20% and 40% on all DVD sales.

Sumner Redstone, the 83-year-old head of Paramount’s parent company, said that Cruise’s falling popularity cost Paramount up to $150 million on Mission: Impossible III. As Redstone saw it, Cruise overplayed his hand, both financially and personally.

In firing Cruise, Redstone issued a warning to other puffed-up stars with inflated salaries and demands.

It often appears that producers and directors ignore the reality that the video gaming generation are not as impressed with special effects as assumed. So movies like King Kong and Star Wars III failed to match the hype because the story lines were predictable and banal. The Da Vinci Code was another bore.

Viral marketing via recommendations from friends is key to a movies success and rather than having a small number grab so much of the pie, often for indifferent performances, investing time and money in quality scripting would do wonders for the industry.

More movies like Speed and The Sixth Sense, please!!

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