Ugly Divorce: Paramount and Tom Cruise Sever Ties

ByABC News
August 22, 2006, 7:00 PM

Aug. 22, 2006 — -- Paramount Pictures is terminating its 14-year relationship with Tom Cruise -- one of the most successful actors in Hollywood history -- because of the actor's off-screen behavior, according to a report published late Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

"As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone told The Wall Street Journal. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

Viacom is the parent company of Paramount, the studio where Cruise/Wagner Productions, Cruise's production company, has maintained offices since 1992.

Cruise's partner, Paula Wagner, told the Associated Press that negotiations on a new contract simply fizzled.

The deal in recent years paid Cruise and Wagner up to $10 million a year to develop films and operate an office on the Paramount lot, the Journal said Wednesday. It was reported that Cruise and the studio had been discussing a less lucrative deal. A spokeswoman for Cruise/Wagner Productions declined to comment on the Journal story.

Cruise's box office success is legendary, but his recent films have been overshadowed by his personal antics. These episodes include his infamous May 2005 couch-jumping interview on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, and his war of words with Brooke Shields over postpartum depression and the use of prescription drugs

The Journal story said Paramount believes that Cruise's behavior hurt box office receipts of the most recent "Mission: Impossible" movie, which was released in May.


His recent film, "Mission: Impossible III," has grossed $133 million domestically and $390 million worldwide. But with a massive budget, estimated at $150 million, it was far beneath expectations.

But Cruise still has considerable clout. In June, he ranked No. 1 on Forbes' "Celebrity 100" list of the most powerful stars in Hollywood, with estimated earnings in 2005 of $67 million.

"Cruise is Hollywood's most bankable actor," Forbes said, just weeks before "M:I:3" opened. The magazine cited "a combination of his awesome earnings from 'War of the Worlds' and the media onslaught following his pairing with actress Katie Holmes."

"War of the Worlds" -- with worldwide box office revenues of $591 million -- is ranked as the 22nd biggest international blockbuster.

The 44-year-old actor has worked hard for the title as Hollywood's most bankable star. Since his breakout performance in 1983's "Risky Business," he's starred in such hits as "Top Gun," "The Color of Money," "Rain Man," and "Jerry McGuire," earning three Oscar nominations.

Between 1986 and 2001, Cruise was the top box office draw a record six times, according to Quigley Publications' annual poll of movie exhibitors. The only actors to be named No. 1 five times are Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Bing Crosby and Burt Reynolds.