Yesterday, the troubled Tom Cruise/Nazi vehicle Valkyrie got pushed back — for a second time — from October to February 2009. MGM is painting the film's new release date as a golden holiday-weekend opportunity for the $90-million-plus historical drama, but it goes without saying this is beyond bullshit; no amount of spin from any of MGM boss Mary Parent's necktied monkeys can reclaim whatever traction Valkyrie might have had once upon a time. Its Cruise/Bryan Singer pedigree took its first hit when it was pushed back from summer '08 to fall ("Better Oscar chances!" we were told as Singer's reshoots pushed his budget and his star past their respective limits), and it now threatens to overtake Charlton Heston as this week's highest-profile celebrity casualty. "Valkyrie is dead," wrote David Poland at The Hot Blog. "There is no such thing as a good movie that gets moved from summer to fall to spring."
The fallout from this move also effectively kills Cruise and partner Paula Wagner's United Artists revival at MGM. Our speculation as to whether or not UA could fill the potential DreamWorks void at Paramount hardly seems to matter when Cruise goes 0-for-2 with Lions For Lambs and Valkyrie, with the latter strikeout sending the humiliated schmogul and his pride to Team MGM's disabled list. Right now the best Cruise can hope for is a Mission Impossible 4 green light at Paramount — without the heavy back-end, without the Scientology drama and without the antics that earned Sumner Redstone's public enmity in 2006. Either that or a vacation to the John Hughes estate or a similarly low-lying area where his mystique (and demand) can recover away from the Valkyrie shock and awe. We'd miss him, of course, but we'd understand if he and the family wanted to decompress.
Of course that won't happen; his vulnerability makes him too attractive a target for new partners who can appeal to his ego. Per UA's agreement with MGM, a lot of those calls will run through Parent's office, an escalating power conduit in itself from which the Valkyrie whacking (not to mention Rick Sands' departure and last week's acquisition of the coveted Robert Ludlum property The Matarese Circle) is the soundest expression yet of who is in charge at the Lion. "She will be damn sure to pick movies she can market," Anne Thompson wrote Monday at her Variety blog. "That's half the battle. And Hollywood sat up and took notice of this move, because they know that Parent gets it." At least someone here does. Movie star, heal thyself.