11:30 10 November 2006
Not so long ago, Tom Cruise was the world's most successful and best-paid actor, capable of packing out cinemas with hit movies like Cocktail, Top Gun and Mission: Impossible.
But after a string of public relations disasters surrounding his devotion to the religious cult of Scientology, the actor was sensationally fired by his film company, leaving his career in tatters.
Paramount Pictures has dropped the 44-year-old actor, calling an abrupt end to one of the most lucrative partnerships in film history.
The chairman of parent company Viacom made the extraordinary move of speaking out publicly to blame Cruise's 'unacceptable conduct' off-set for his decision.
Sumner Redstone said: 'As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal. His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.'
Redstone estimated that Cruise's off-screen behaviour cost his latest movie, Mission: Impossible III, between 50 and 75million in lost box office revenues even though the film was, he said, 'the best of the three movies' in the action series.
'It's nothing to do with his acting ability, he's a terrific actor,' Redstone said. 'But we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot.'
The 'recent conduct' Redstone is referring to covers the past year, which has been a public relations fiasco for Cruise.
Cruise's obsessive devotion to Scientology has seen him demand that his young fiancee Katie Holmes should go through the agonising process of childbirth in silence.
There followed speculation that Miss Holmes's conversion to Scientology at Cruise's request has caused her estrangement from her own family, while wildly varying reports have questioned the very existence of their four-month-old daughter Suri since to this day she is yet to be seen in public.
He has been criticised for his public denouncement of the actress Brooke Shields for using antidepressants to treat postnatal depression and his criticism of prescriptions drugs, since they go against Scientology's belief system.
Cruise's behaviour in public in recent months has also become increasingly erratic. He became the butt of jokes after declaring his love for Miss Holmes in his infamous couch-hopping appearance on America's Oprah Winfrey Show.
Another factor which has led to Cruise's increasingly outspoken nature recently has been his 2004 split from his high-profile publicist Pat Kingsley, who in the past was always rather good at reigning him in.
Yet it seems the tipping point for Paramount was - inevitably - over money.
On top of Cruise's recent tarnished image affecting his films' takings, the actor had also created bad feeling by demanding huge fees.
Paramount on the other hand is currently trying to make big savings.
Paramount's Mission Impossible II took a healthy 288million worldwide in 2000, however, the follow-up movie Mission Impossible III this year took little more than 200million.
In both cases, Cruise demanded 20 per cent of takings plus a large wage, giving him an overall salary of some 40million per picture which considerably ate away at Paramount's profits.
Cruise and his production partner Paula Wagner had run Cruise/Wagner productions under the Paramount umbrella for 14 years - their first movie together being Top Gun.
Their productions for the studio have earned some 1.3billion - which makes Paramount's decision to call time on their deal even more extraordinary.
Redstone finally decided not to renew their contract after negotiations apparently stagnated - a decision which immediately sent shockwaves around the Los Angeles film community.
Cruise leaving Paramount in such a high-profile manner is being seen by Hollywood commentators as sending out a clear signal to other megastars to toe the line.
It comes just days after fellow actor Mel Gibson was given a severe dressing down after being pulled over for drink-driving in Los Angeles and launching into an anti-semitic rant.
One Hollywood insider said: 'This is a pretty clear indication that studios are no longer willing to bow down to their big talent. There are plenty more actors where Tom Cruise comes from - Hollywood is full of them.'
But is it the end for the mega-star? Only time will tell.
Source: Daily Mail, BBC
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