Top Gun tough guy Tom Cruise, who turned into a saccharine marshmallow with an Eiffel Tower proposal, an elaborate wedding in Italy, and the infamous chimpanzee couch jumping embarrassment on Oprah; is in perhaps the biggest challenge of his career - as a corporate honcho of the illustrious, but long moribund, United Artists.
In what is recognized as a very important project for the new owners of UA, Lions for Lambs grossed a disappointing US$6.7 Million in its opening weekend, a holiday at that; where a lowest bottomline is pegged at US$8.0 Million. A lot of people doubt if the film could ever recoup the US$35 Million spent for producing it.
Prior to this, other films which he starred in such as Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, Eyes Wide Shut and War of the Worlds didn't do very well either, critically and commercially. His intent to be regarded as a major Hollywood player with this latest film, as both Producer and Star, has struck an iceberg and threatens to leave him out in the cold. Successive failures may be turning his gigantic screen persona into the Titanic: sinking fast and abandoned.
The question is: If his acceptability as an actor is being eroded (perhaps by his hammy and cheesy antics), can he cut it as a movie mogul?
The new company's planned second film Valkyrie, which he also topbills, will have to take the brunt. The third film Pinkville is already delayed because of the writers' strike. This leaves him only reasons why he might fail, but it would be a failure nonetheless.
It seems Tom Cruise will be cut down to size, and that's not a very flattering proposition (Ask Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz). He should heed the warnings and reshape his image, if its not too late. He should perhaps do movies with the following titles: Big Gun, Big Bertha's Barrel, Major Transplant Report, or Volcanic Skyrocket. This way, his old fans and new ones too will imagine him as someone with a big load and a huge influence; as against someone with a big chip and a huge ego.
As it stands, his first film as a corporate honcho is prophetic, "Lions for Lambs". He was once the lion that now morphed into a lamb. His fans (what remains of them) are still fortunate he didn't become a pussy.