While various Hollywood types anonymously scoffed at Tom Cruise's plan to fund his post-Paramount moviemaking comeback with funds derived from funnel cake sales and spare change lost by patrons hanging upside down in various gravity-defying thrill rides, we always had the feeling [Ed.note—Sure we did!] that Cruise was planning something a little more dramatic. A press release issued this morning has just revealed the shocking news that Cruise is personally—personally!—reviving dormant studio United Artists with producing partner Paula Wagner and MGM. Retreat into the fetal position and shudder in existential fear as you're introduced to Tom Cruise, movie mogul:
"Partnering with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, we have the ideal creative foundation from which to reintroduce the United Artists brand," said [MGM Chairman and CEO Harry] Sloan in making the announcement. "Tom and Paula are the modern versions of the iconic founders of United Artists - Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith - and our partnership with them reaffirms our commitment to providing creative talent with a comfortable home at United Artists and a dedicated distribution partner in MGM. United Artists is once again the haven for independent filmmakers and a vital resource in developing quality filmed entertainment consistent with MGM's modern studio model."
MGM PARTNERS WITH TOM CRUISE AND PAULA WAGNER TO FORM NEW UNITED ARTISTS
Paula Wagner to Serve as CEO of the New UA
LOS ANGELES, CA November 2, 2006 — United Artists, the studio founded by
movie greats Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and D.W.
Griffith some 85 years ago and responsible for delivering such iconic film
franchises as "Rocky," "Pink Panther" and "James Bond," will be reborn
under a partnership formed between Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner and
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM). The announcement was made today by Harry
E. Sloan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, MGM.
Cruise and Wagner, one of the most successful film production teams ever,
will drive the rebirth of United Artists as MGM's operating partner. Along
with their substantial ownership, Cruise and Wagner will have control of
setting the company's production slate, from development to production
greenlighting ability, subject to certain parameters. Wagner will serve as
Chief Executive Officer of United Artists, overseeing the day to day
operations of the studio alongside her longstanding producing partner
Cruise, who will star in as well as produce films for United Artists and
also be available to appear in film projects for other studios.
Cruise last teamed up with the original UA on "Rain Man" in 1988, which won
four Academy Awards including Best Picture.
In establishing United Artists as a new entity, MGM and Cruise/Wagner will
return the studio to its former roots by recognizing what made UA great in
the first place - studio management by creative talent who can best
encourage and support other creative talent. The talent friendly studio
will be reborn as a place where producers, writers, directors and actors
can thrive in a creative environment, developing and producing entertaining
film projects. The plan would allow artists throughout the community to
pursue their creative visions outside of the traditional studio system.
The studio plans to have a production slate of approximately four (4) films
each year, which may increase in the future. Worldwide marketing and
distribution will be handled by partner MGM. UA will be a major supplier
of feature films to MGM, with production and development of UA movies being
fully financed by MGM and its partners. MGM is the only major studio
controlled by private equity firms which include Providence Equity Partners
and Texas Pacific Group along with industry partners Comcast Corp. and Sony
Corp. of America.
"Partnering with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, we have the ideal creative
foundation from which to reintroduce the United Artists brand," said Sloan
in making the announcement. "Tom and Paula are the modern versions of the
iconic founders of United Artists - Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford,
Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith - and our partnership with them
reaffirms our commitment to providing creative talent with a comfortable
home at United Artists and a dedicated distribution partner in MGM. United
Artists is once again the haven for independent filmmakers and a vital
resource in developing quality filmed entertainment consistent with MGM's
modern studio model."
Commented Cruise: "Paula and I are very respectful of the rich history and
tradition of United Artists, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute
to that legacy by providing a wide range of releases that appeal to all
audiences. It's our desire to create an environment where filmmakers can
thrive and see their visions realized."
"This is a great opportunity for Tom and me to re-establish the United
Artists brand and to work closely with the creative community," stated
Wagner. "As studio partner-operators, we will provide a supportive
environment and infrastructure for filmmakers that will allow them to do
their best work."
"Providing Tom and Paula with the ability to greenlight films under the UA
banner validates MGM's commitment to and recognition of independent
producers as the true creative nucleus of Hollywood filmmaking," said Rick
Sands, COO of MGM. "The relationship between UA, which will provide the
creative environment for independent producers to nurture content of their
own vision and MGM, which will apply its expertise to distribution and
marketing to those projects, is an ideal collaboration of art and business.
The resurgence of United Artists will take us another step closer to
realizing the full revitalization of MGM. Harry and I are personally
thrilled to be working with Tom and Paula."
Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise launched Cruise/Wagner Productions as an
independent production company in September 1993. Since its inception, the
company has enjoyed unparalleled success, producing a wide range of films
that have earned multiple awards, widespread critical praise and global box
office grosses in excess of US$2.9 billion. Films produced by the company
include the Mission Impossible franchise as well as critical and commercial
successes such as "War of the Worlds," "The Last Samurai," "The Others" and
"Vanilla Sky," among others.
Tom Cruise is one of the most successful, critically acclaimed and sought
after movie stars in the world. In a career spanning 26 years, Cruise has
received three Academy Award nominations and has won three Golden Globe
awards for his performance in such hit films as "Born on the Fourth of
July," "Jerry Maguire" and "Magnolia" and numerous accolades for his
performances in "The Last Samurai," "Minority Report" and "Collateral."
Cruise's films have resulted in worldwide box office totals of
approximately US$6 billion and his last two films, "War of the Worlds" and
"Mission: Impossible III" have grossed nearly US$1 billion worldwide.
Overall, Cruise has made 14 films that have grossed US$100 million in
domestic receipts alone, with his last seven consecutive films reaching
The agreement between Cruise Wagner Productions and MGM/UA, which takes
effect immediately, was brokered by Cruise Wagner's representative CAA and
attorney Bert Fields.