• International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner

Cruise loses studio partner

It was supposed to be a new dawn: a chance for Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner to escape the rigours of the studio system and branch out on their own. But the duo's brief tenure at United Artists has come to an abrupt end with the news that Wagner is leaving to pursue separate projects .

According to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news last night, the move spells the end for the Cruise/Wagner partnership which has been one of the tightest in Hollywood since 1993. Publicly both sides are insisting they will continue to work on projects together.

Wagner and Cruise's arrival to run United Artists in November 2006 was hailed at the time as a huge fillip for the latter's career, which had hit the doldrums after he was dropped by Paramount and dismissed as a spent force following controversy surrounding his relationship with the actor Katie Holmes, his role as a prominent Scientologist and the disappointing box-office performance of several of his recent films, including Mission: Impossible III and The War of the Worlds.

But a project which had started promisingly with Cruise's vow to return the glory days to United Artists, a semi-independent studio which was started in 1919 by four of the biggest figures in film: Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and DW Griffith, now looks to be in tatters.

Cruise remains on board as co-owner, but he has recently been considering projects which have no connection to the studio. He is currently eyeing the comedy Food Fight for Britain's Working Title and is in talks for the spy thriller The Tourist, which has been adapted by the Oscar-winning Brit Julian Fellowes from a 2005 French original.

Those moves follow the failure of the first production from United Artists, the Iraq war polemic Lions for Lambs, to strike a chord with critics or cinemagoers, and the problems surrounding its next, Valkyrie , which features Cruise as the Nazi would-be killer of Hitler. Originally set for an autumn opening, it was then held back until next February, but is now rescheduled to open at US cinemas on Boxing Day.

With United Artists' parent company MGM reportedly experiencing financing difficulties on its own films, the future for Cruise's company now looks increasingly bleak. But a joint MGM-UA statement yesterday insisted the company was moving forward.

"Nothing will change in regard to Cruise's involvement with UA, and he continues to have a substantial ownership interest in the company," it read. "Furthermore, Cruise and Wagner will continue to work on film projects together."

Most viewed

Bold Entrance

Paula Wagner: Tom Cruise’s Former Producing Partner Explains What A Producer Actually Does

Paula Wagner is an unfamiliar name for many film-goers, but if you watch the first three Mission:Impossible  films, you’ll notice they’re made by Cruise/Wagner Productions. Wagner formed the production company with Tom Cruise in 1993. The joint venture marked Wagner’s transition from casting agent at CAA to producer. And Cruise/Wagner Productions gave Cruise more control over projects he acted in, and more of the profits.

Under an exclusive deal with Paramount Pictures, Cruise/Wagner Productions produced every one of Cruise’s films from  Mission: Impossible (1996) to Valkyrie  (2008). Other features made by the production company included The Others, Without Limits, Narc, Shattered Glass, Elizabethtown,  and  Death Race. While Cruise/Wagner closed it’s doors in 2008, after Paramount boss, Sumner Redstone, pulled the plug on his relationship with the production company, both Cruise and Wagner were established as powerful producers, with the lucrative partnership grossing more than $2.9 billion at the box office.

Since then, Wagner has produced two other Cruise projects– Jack Reacher  and  Jack Reacher: Never Go Back– and moved into independent projects, including Chadwick Bosman’s Marshall (2017),  a well-received true story about the first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.

Wagner, as a result, knows how to co-ordinate the full gamut of film projects from big budget to smaller character-focused productions. In the following video by CookeOpticsTV below, she explains what the role of the film producer is.

Tags: mission: impossible , producer , tom cruise

Related posts

why did cruise and wagner split

Revisiting Lalo Schifrin’s Classic ‘Mission: Impossible’ Musical Score

why did cruise and wagner split

Tom Cruise Will Launch Into Outer Space To Film A Space Movie Next Year

About the author.

' src=

Daniel Rennie

why did cruise and wagner split

Learn how this low-budget film influenced the plot, the production design, and even the lighting...

Den of Geek

Tom Cruise and The Failed United Artists Experiment

In late 2006, with much fanfare, Tom Cruise was announced as headlined a revived United Artists. But what went wrong?

why did cruise and wagner split

  • Share on Facebook (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on Twitter (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on Linkedin (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on email (opens in a new tab)

This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK .

Lurking in the corners of Netflix UK is a not-very-widely-seen Tom Cruise movie, that a decade ago was all set to herald a new filmmaking dawn. Directed by Robert Redford, and with a cast that includes Redford, Cruise, Meryl Streep and a then-relatively-unknown Andrew Garfield, Lions For Lambs looked on paper to be a heavyweight political drama. Its focus is on three stories: an ambitious politician giving an interview to tough reporter, an army platoon being ordered to go on a top secret mission by said politician, and a professor trying to talk a promising student into turning his life around.

It looked like Oscar-bait. It turned out to be a footnote in the failure to resurrect United Artists.

United Artists was originally founded in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, D W Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, with the ambition of allowing acting and creative talent to have control over their work, as opposed to being studio-dictated. In the decades that followed, the company had a bumpy life, but not without successes. In the 1950s and 1960s in particular, United Artists scored many successes, winning bags of Oscars too. It also, presciently, picked up the rights to the James Bond novels. Not a bad business move.

Ad – content continues below

But the dramatic fall really came at the end of the 1970s, with new owners Transamerica, and the decision to back Michael Cimino’s notoriously expensive bomb, Heaven’s Gate . Heaven’s Gate bled money out of the company, and a merger with MGM followed. MGM, too, would soon face its own financing struggles.

Fast forward to 2006, though, and a promising future looked on the horizon. Tom Cruise and his producing partner, Paula Wagner, had been under an exclusive production deal with Paramount Pictures since the early 1990s – leading to the Mission: Impossible movie franchise, among other projects – but when that deal came to an end, they looked for other opportunities. This was around the time when Paramount’s then-boss, Sumner Redstone, had made less than complimentary remarks about Cruise’s declining box office draw costing Mission: Impossible III box office green.

A break was inevitable, and an opportunity developed. MGM was looking for what to do with its United Artists label, and negotiations began about an unusual deal. As such, in November 2006, a deal was announced. Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise would take on a minority share in the latest iteration of United Artists. The plan was that Wagner would act as CEO, whilst Cruise would be expected to appear in its films, but wouldn’t be exclusively locked to UA productions (it would have somewhat gone against the originally founding principles of United Artists had he been). Cruise and Wagner would then have autonomy over a slate of up to four movies a year, provided the budgets were on the modest size.

At the time, MGM spokesman Jeff Pryor wouldn’t be drawn on whether Cruise and Wagner had paid for the equity stake, or whether it was in return for having the star power of Cruise involved in UA productions. “I wish Tom and his associates the greatest good fortune on their new venture”, Sumner Redstone said in a statement, whilst hardly battling to keep him on the Paramount lot.

Even from the off, though, response to the new United Artists was mixed. Some questioned whether Cruise had the box office power to make it work still. Others wondered if it was a play by Cruise to show he still had clout in Hollywood. Some, less cynically, suggested he just wanted to make more of the films he wanted to see.

Whichever theory was subscribed to, though, all eyes would inevitably be on the first picture from the new UA.

As it happened, a film was already deep into development. Based on a screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Lions For Lambs already had Robert Redford interested in the movie as his next directorial venture. He hadn’t directed a picture since 2000’s The Legend Of Bagger Vance at that stage, and was interested in a project that went against the Hollywood trend for purely entertainment projects. He signed on the dotted line, and filming began at the end of January 2007 – less than three months after the new UA deal had been announced. It would be the first picture under the umbrella of it.

Get the best of Den of Geek delivered right to your inbox!

Redford noted subsequently that it was the tightest schedule he’d ever worked to, with less than a year between the film’s announcement and release. But the bigger problem became how to sell it. MGM in the end was insistent that this was a Robert Redford project, rather than a Tom Cruise film, but one look at the poster showed it was also hardly downplaying Cruise’s relatively modest on-screen involvement.

Beyond that, though, the film’s three stories – while independently interesting – didn’t really convincingly gel into one coherent feature film. As such, critics didn’t warm to the movie, and attempts by MGM to half-sell it as a blockbuster film didn’t work either. Costing roughly $35 million for the negative, the film grossed $63.2 million worldwide. It would only crawl towards profit on its home release, and even though, it’s not a curio that too many seek out.

Still, Cruise had a bigger project for United Artists, and this time he would take a starring role. Back in 2002, screenwriter and director Christopher McQuarrie started putting together a film based on a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 by German soldiers. He’d subsequently shape that into a screenplay for what would become the film Valkyrie .

McQuarrie interested director Bryan Singer, who had brushed against the subject matter with his movie Apt Pupil . He agreed to direct, and McQuarrie suggested that the film would be a project the new United Artists would be interested in. He was right.

Paula Wagner liked the pitch immediately, and in March 2007, a deal was struck to finance the film. Cruise was asked to star, and agreed to do so. Filming duly began in July 2007. But in the aftermath of Lions For Lambs ’ disappointing box office, the stakes became a lot higher for Valkyrie . At $75 million, it was a more expensive film for a start. But this would also be a more telling audit of where Tom Cruise’s box office power actually was at this stage.

The film, though, was soon in the crosshairs of the movie press, with a volley of disparaging stories emerging while the film was being made. Not that the constant shifting of release dates helped. Valkyrie was originally set for release in August 2008. Then it moved to June 2008. Then it moved to October 2008. Then it moved to February 2009. Then it moved back to December 2008. At least one of the date changes was to accommodate the filming of an extra sequence, but the others betrayed the leaking confidence MGM had in the film. Once a movie it wanted to target as an Oscar contender, it eventually figured awards wouldn’t be forthcoming, and went to maximise box office instead. Furthermore, it reconfigured its marketing to downplay Tom Cruise’s involvement, and the constant dismissal of the film as Cruise’s “eye-patch movie.”

Contrary to some popular opinion, Valkyrie was a decent commercial success, too. The film has problems, certainly, but reviews were okay, and the global box office of $200.3 million wasn’t a bad return, given the troubles the production had been through.

However, even before the film his cinemas, the new United Artists was crumbling. On August 14th, 2008, months before the film was released, it was announced that Paula Wagner had left United Artists, and instead would be developing films as an independent producer. She kept her ownership stake in the movie, but according to a Variety report at the time, she “frequently butted heads with MGM” when actually trying to get films greenlit. MGM itself had undergone a change of studio head in the interim, and its new boss was more interested in developing a slate of pictures himself, rather than pushing resources to United Artists. For MGM’s part, it argued that Wagner “wasn’t developing aggressively enough.”

Wagner had been hampered by the Writers’ Guild of America strike at around the same time, that led to the collapse of what would have been a further UA production, Pinkville . Bruce Willis had signed to star in the movie, that Oliver Stone would have directed. But when script problems sprung up, UA couldn’t hire writers to fix it. The talent moved on. It also had a dance movie by the name of Move , from Camp Rock director Matthew Diamond, near the starting blocks. That, too, fell apart.

The plan at the point of Wagner’s departure was said to be for Cruise to take a greater involvement in the running of the studio. But there’s no sign that ever came to pass. Valkyrie was Cruise’s last project to date with a United Artists logo on it, and he would instead focus on acting projects again, such as Knight & Day , Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (that revived that franchise back at Paramount) and Rock Of Ages .

The UA name would potter on. Its logo appeared on two further MGM films:  Hot Tub Time Machine and the remake of Fame . By 2011, MGM had bought back full control of the United Artists banner, but an annual report statement declaring it “may resume using the United Artists banner to develop and produce new films” never came to pass.

Instead, United Artists is now a name without the original company and its ethos behind it. Today, the United Artists webpage is a competition to win a trip to the set of the new Stargate TV show, and that’s it. MGM has used the United Artists name on a new television production deal it struck with One Three Media and Lightworkers Media back in 2014. It’s a subsidiary label, and nothing more, for MGM.

Ironically, since his last United Artists picture, Cruise has been involved in six Paramount productions, including the two lined up for release in the next two years. Lions For Lambs , meanwhile, a film once set to be the bold opening of a revived artistic ethos, loiters around the corridors of Netflix…

Simon Brew

Simon Brew | @SimonBrew

Editor, author, writer, broadcaster, Costner fanatic. Now runs Film Stories Magazine.

Cruise in deal to revive UA

  • Show more sharing options
  • Copy Link URL Copied!

Two months after he was kicked out of Paramount Pictures, actor Tom Cruise and his producing partner are returning as part owners of one of Hollywood’s most storied movie names.

The deal for Cruise and longtime associate Paula Wagner to own at least 30% of a resurrected United Artists reflects a changing economic climate in the movie industry in which outside money from sophisticated investors is increasingly bankrolling stars and filmmakers as an alternative to studio checkbooks.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Nov. 11, 2006 For The Record Los Angeles Times Saturday November 11, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 53 words Type of Material: Correction United Artists deal: A chronology accompanying a Nov. 3 article in Section A about actor Tom Cruise and associate Paula Wagner’s becoming part owners of a resurrected United Artists included the film “The Greatest Story Ever Told” as one of the studio’s hits. The movie, though critically praised, was considered a box-office disappointment.

Cruise and Wagner will partner with UA owner Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., another historic name in Hollywood now controlled by private equity firms, to take charge of reviving a company that is in effect returning to its roots as an artist-operated studio. In 1919, UA was founded by four of the most important figures in the silent-movie era -- Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and director D.W. Griffith to offer artists creative freedom and ownership in movies.

At UA, Wagner will serve as chief executive, a role she has never held in a career that has included being Cruise’s production partner for 14 years and, before that, his agent.

Cruise won’t have an executive title but is expected to be heavily involved in developing and producing UA movies. He will star in an unspecified number but will still be able to act in movies for other studios.

The two, who are not risking their own money, plan to produce at least four films a year averaging $40 million to $50 million that MGM will market and release, and can give the go-ahead to projects costing as much as $60 million.

“When you look at the tradition of UA and what the philosophy was -- to make pictures driven by artists -- it fit into what Tom and I wanted to do,” Wagner said.

Cruise said in a statement, “It’s our desire to create an environment where filmmakers can thrive and see their visions realized.”

But some industry watchers were skeptical. Cruise and Wagner have a mixed track record as producers, and they lack experience overseeing what amounts to a mini-studio.

“Good for Tom -- it’s a great press release,” said media analyst Harold Vogel. “But it’s little beyond a press release and the revival of a moribund label that happened to be available.”

Although he is still one of the world’s biggest stars, Cruise has hurt his public image lately with off-screen antics that have turned off some moviegoers. And, at age 44, he is no longer the youthful superstar he was when he made such films as “Top Gun,” “The Firm” and “Jerry Maguire.”

Although Cruise and Wagner are considered bona fide producers, making hundreds of millions of dollars over the years for Paramount when Cruise starred in such movies as the “Mission: Impossible” films and “War of the Worlds,” they have not done as well on films without him as an actor. Last year’s “Elizabethtown” lost about $30 million for Paramount.

The Cruise-Wagner deal comes as Hollywood’s biggest stars and filmmakers are seeking outside money as they are being squeezed by cost-conscious studios coping with soaring production and marketing costs, erratic box-office returns and flattening DVD sales. Over the last year, thousands of jobs have been slashed, and lavish talent deals like the one Cruise and Wagner had at Paramount for 14 years are coming under scrutiny.

Top actors often branch out into production to make pet projects, gain creative freedom and to get a bigger slice of the profits. Cruise for years enjoyed by far the richest studio-funded production company deal of any top star, with Paramount paying as much as $10 million a year to cover payroll, script purchases and fees he and Wagner were guaranteed.

However, Cruise and Wagner were jettisoned from Paramount in August after the studio balked at continuing to fund the duo’s production company at that level. In a move that blindsided Cruise, Wagner and even Paramount’s own management, Sumner Redstone, chairman of studio parent Viacom Inc., publicly trashed Cruise, saying the star hurt the studio with his public behavior.

Cruise had jumped on talk-show host Oprah Winfrey’s couch professing his love for actress Katie Holmes, aggressively promoted his Scientology beliefs and criticized actress Brooke Shields for taking medication to treat her postpartum depression.

Redstone estimated that Cruise’s actions cost the studio as much as $150 million in box-office receipts for “Mission: Impossible III.” Although Paramount expects to break even on the film, which grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, Cruise could reap as much as $80 million because of his lucrative arrangement.

Despite that, Redstone issued a statement Thursday saying, “I wish Tom and his associates the greatest fortune in their new venture.”

A few years ago, even a star of Cruise’s caliber might not have pulled off a venture such as UA. But money from new sources such as hedge funds and private equity groups is pouring into a business once financed almost exclusively by major studios.

MGM, whose two biggest investors are private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group, will initially fund UA and be its majority owner. MGM Chairman Harry Sloan said his studio would provide money to help Cruise and Wagner get UA off the ground. Before long, Sloan said, he will seek financing from hedge funds, investment banks and individuals to make the company more independent from MGM.

Wagner confirmed that a new fund, Winchester Capital Management, whose partners include former top CBS and Sony executive Jeff Sagansky, is providing $100 million for approved movie projects that may be cofinanced by UA.

Sloan said MGM was considering offering other top talent who want to work outside the studio system a chance to join Cruise and Wagner as partners in United Artists, which will be based at MGM headquarters in Century City.

“The studios are accusing the talent of putting them at big risk, and the talent is accusing the studios of wasting money and being political bureaucracies,” Sloan said. “This way we can create a new studio model where everyone can win.”

Having a studio part owned and run by talent is reminiscent of UA’s original philosophy when Chaplin, Pickford, Fairbanks and Griffith founded it. Even after the four were no longer involved, UA continued as a creative force. It arguably hit its zenith in the 1960s and 1970s, earning best-picture Oscars for such hits as “West Side Story,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall.” It also was the home of the blockbuster James Bond and “Pink Panther” franchises.

But the studio nearly sank in 1980 while owned by insurance giant Transamerica Corp. when “Heaven’s Gate” became one of the all-time box-office debacles. A year later, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian bought UA and merged it with MGM. Cruise worked with UA in 1988 when he starred with Dustin Hoffman in the Oscar-winning “Rain Man.”

In recent years, UA evolved into a label for small, independent films such as “Capote.” UA was mothballed after MGM was bought in 2005 for nearly $5 billion by four private investment firms in partnership with electronics giant Sony Corp. and cable operator Comcast Corp.

Ever since Sloan was hired by MGM a year ago, he has tried to figure out a way to revive UA and even entertained offers to sell it. Shortly after Redstone cut Cruise loose, Sloan called Creative Artists Agency, where Cruise’s representatives include Wagner’s husband, Rick Nicita, floating the idea of getting into business with the two.

Cruise and Wagner had received a multimillion-dollar infusion into their production company from Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. When Sloan pitched running UA to them, Wagner said, it was a “unique opportunity” they had to grab.

“We’re moving onward and looking to the future,” Wagner said. “It’s a dream Tom and I have had to set up a company we can run, manage and be part owners.”

[email protected]


United Artists: a chronology

1919: Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith team up to form their own studio, which they name United Artists.

1940: UA releases Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” which wins the studio’s first best-picture Oscar.

1951: Chaplin and Pickford, the surviving partners, sell UA to entertainment lawyers Arthur Krim and Robert S. Benjamin.

1967: After a succession of hits, including “The Apartment,” “West Side Story” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” Krim and Benjamin sell UA to Transamerica Corp.

1975-77: UA wins three successive best-picture Oscars, for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall.”

1977: United Artists sets an industry record for film grosses.

1980: UA’s release of Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” becomes a critical and financial debacle for the studio. The film makes back only $1.3 million of its $44-million cost.

1981: Kirk Kerkorian buys UA and merges it with MGM.

1988: UA releases “Rain Man,” its 10th and most recent film to win a best-picture Oscar.

1990: Kerkorian sells MGM/UA to Giancarlo Parretti. He defaults in 1991, turning over the studio to Credit Lyonnais.

1996: Kerkorian reacquires MGM and UA for $1.3 billion.

2002: The UA film “No Man’s Land” wins the Oscar for best foreign-language film. Later in the year, UA releases “Bowling for Columbine,” which wins the Oscar for best documentary.

2005: MGM, including United Artists, is bought by an investment group led by Sony Corp.

Thursday: Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner sign a deal to run and be part owners of United Artists.

Times research by Scott Wilson

More to Read

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1861 -- Pictured: Host Ryan Gosling during Promos on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

On ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Ryan Gosling can’t stop cracking up as guest host

April 13, 2024

Indio, CA - April 13: Tyler, the Creator headlines on the second night of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, April 13, 2024 in Indio, CA. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Coachella 2024: Tyler, the Creator wreaks late night havoc as headliner on Day 2

April 14, 2024

INDO-CA-APRIL 13, 2024: No Doubt performs at Coachella on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Coachella 2024: No Doubt dusts off energetic, greatest hits set with assist from Olivia Rodrigo

The biggest entertainment stories

Get our big stories about Hollywood, film, television, music, arts, culture and more right in your inbox as soon as they publish.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

“The Sign,” a highly anticipated 28-minute special episode of “Bluey,” is now streaming on Disney+.

How ‘Bluey’ special ‘The Sign’ was created: ‘It’s one of the most beautiful episodes we’ve made’

INDO-CA-APRIL 12, 2024: Zurie Joseph, 24 of Riverside, wears an aqua ensemble at Coachella on Friday, April 12, 2024. "The skirt is my favorite part, I love the flowiness." (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Coachella 2024: Photos of festival fashion

The Sympathizer Hoa Xuande

‘The Sympathizer’ is a tense black comedy that’s also a moving story about friendship

Chris Noth as Big and Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie

Toxic Masculinity and Big vs. Aidan: How ‘Sex and the City’s’ love triangle has aged

April 12, 2024

  • Share full article


Supported by

Mission Improbable: Tom Cruise as Mogul

why did cruise and wagner split

By Richard Siklos

  • March 4, 2007

Los Angeles

ARRAYED in a glass case in the lobby of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s headquarters in Century City are contracts from the creation of the United Artists studio in 1919. The documents bear the signatures of the Tinseltown legends Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and D. W. Griffith. Also ensconced in the case is one of United Artists’ first income statements: sales of $21 million in today’s dollars, a fair sum for the early 20th century but barely enough to finance even a single low-budget film now.

Some things never change. Asked how United Artists’ early revenues compare with what it takes in today, Harry E. Sloan, chief executive of the studio’s parent company, MGM, replies: “We don’t have any yet. It’s all cost.”

If Mr. Sloan has his way, however, that will soon change. Last November, he signed the latest set of United Artists contracts with yet another Hollywood heavyweight determined to chart his own financial and creative course: Tom Cruise. Mr. Cruise and his business partner, the veteran film producer Paula Wagner, have signed on to run United Artists with what insiders describe as a relatively free hand for a term of at least five years. In exchange, MGM has granted the pair about a one-third stake in the dormant studio without asking them to invest a penny in it.

Ms. Wagner is the chief executive of UA — as the studio is commonly known — while Mr. Cruise bears no official title except, perhaps, the world’s most famous movie star. Unlike Ms. Wagner, Mr. Cruise does not draw a salary from UA, according to a person with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The idea is that his ownership stake alone will align the interests of Tom Cruise the actor with Tom Cruise the studio grandee.

“I can’t put a number on it yet,” says Bert Fields, the Hollywood rainmaker and lawyer who represents Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner. “I will tell you this: If their pictures succeed, it will be worth a very large amount.”

Still, in a town awash in news releases written in magic ink on fairy parchment, Hollywood does not know exactly what to make of the idea of Cruise-as-mogul — or, for that matter, how exactly the fast-moving Mr. Sloan plans to deploy UA and the deep pockets of private equity investors to yank MGM back from the brink of obscurity.

Moreover, Mr. Cruise stands at the end of a long line of creative potentates in Hollywood, including Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen and Steven Spielberg, who have tried to follow the original Chaplin-Fairbanks-Pickford blueprint by overseeing their own mini-studios. All of them experienced mixed results as they ran up against the brutal economics of a hit-and-miss industry in which independents often lack the size needed to overcome the financial vagaries of filmmaking.

Though the relationship between studios and stars has grown ever more tangled in modern Hollywood, one thing has stayed the same: what many stars most covet — along with fame and fortune — is creative autonomy from their corporate overlords. For actors like Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, that has meant deals as independent producers that give them a stronger hand in developing their pet projects and bestow production fees and credits on them.

Until last year, the gold standard of such deals was an arrangement between Cruise/Wagner Productions and Paramount, the studio where Mr. Cruise, 44, had starred in many of his biggest pictures. But that relationship vaporized in a mushroom cloud last August, after what many critics called Mr. Cruise’s erratic behavior during his promotional tour for the spy thriller “Mission: Impossible III.”

Sumner M. Redstone, the chairman of Viacom , Paramount’s owner, contended that he had fired Mr. Cruise for “inappropriate” behavior that had hurt his studio’s bottom line. Mr. Cruise’s defenders accused Mr. Redstone of grandstanding and said that, actually, both sides had already been planning to part amicably.

Regardless, the media firestorm and scrutiny of Mr. Cruise’s career and conduct only intensified when, two months later, Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner landed at United Artists, which through different owners has hewed in varying degrees to its founding ideals of artistic hegemony.

The producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who worked with Mr. Cruise early in his career on the film “Top Gun,” said that the news of the move “kind of shocked Hollywood.”

Mr. Bruckheimer added: “You have a star and his producing partner actually running a studio. That hasn’t happened in I don’t know how many years.”

BEFORE it became part of MGM in 1981, United Artists spawned the “James Bond,” “Pink Panther” and “Rocky” franchises and, during one prolific run in the 1970s, won three consecutive best-picture Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall.”

A promotional reel that Mr. Sloan shows investors in MGM’s penthouse screening room makes plain that many of the best-known titles in the current MGM film library — from “The Apartment” to “West Side Story” — were United Artists releases.

The lore is not lost on Mr. Cruise. At a recent party, Peter Bart, the editor in chief of Variety, greeted Mr. Cruise and mentioned that for a two-year period in the 1980s he, too, had been a senior executive at United Artists. “I know,” Mr. Cruise replied instantly, and proceeded to list all the movies made under Mr. Bart’s tenure, Mr. Bart recalled in an interview.

Discussing their fledgling plans to revive one of the more storied names in filmdom — and considering the maelstrom in which the whole idea was hatched — United Artists’ new chieftains acknowledge in interviews that they have stitched together their business plan on the fly because, they say, they are in a hurry and have a lot to prove.

As a result, UA in its new incarnation is a basket of contradictions and question marks: it’s a filmmaking enterprise ultimately owned by a studio, MGM, that had only recently vowed to get out of that line of work to focus on the less risky and more predictable — albeit far less sexy — business of marketing and distribution. Moreover, it’s a small studio co-managed by one of the world’s ultimate “big movie” movie stars.

“UA is in the shadows here,” Ms. Wagner insists. At the new studio, she adds, “It’s the film that’s the star.”

Everyone involved cautions that it is still early and that the studio’s course is not fully set; its first production, a political thriller called “Lions for Lambs,” directed by Robert Redford and starring Mr. Redford, Mr. Cruise and Meryl Streep, is being shot now and is scheduled for a November release. If all goes as planned, United Artists will announce as soon as this week a debt financing of $400 million to $500 million to finance its first slate of pictures, backing that includes $100 million from MGM itself.

Beyond saying that the plan is to live up to the United Artists legacy of making talent feel like partners rather than employees, and a goal of releasing four to six films a year distributed by MGM, Ms. Wagner says that little else is set in stone.

“There are no absolutes,” she says over brunch at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel. “Under no circumstances am I making any proclamations or declarations — we’re new; we’re 100 days here.”

Ms. Wagner carries herself with the poise of someone who once worked as a theater actress and a talent agent before becoming Mr. Cruise’s collaborator and the public face of his entrepreneurial and filmmaking ambitions. Mr. Cruise declined to be interviewed for this article, because, Ms. Wagner says, he prefers that she speak publicly about their mutual business interests.

As far as those first 100 days go, Ms. Wagner says their new company is on track: it is hiring new employees, has “Lions for Lambs” under way, has just optioned a hot book, “The Birthday Party” by Stanley N. Alpert, and is taking meetings and pitches all over town. The plan is to make films of varying budgets and genres. But anything that is projected to cost more than about $60 million needs a green light from MGM.

Mr. Cruise is not obligated to appear in any UA films, though the incentive of owning a large chunk of the print, as well as the bragging rights and perquisites that entails, is meant to be a strong motivator for him to ply his “day job — or night job,” as Ms. Wagner puts it, at UA.

In the case of “Lions for Lambs,” MGM is providing the film’s $35 million budget. Mr. Cruise, Mr. Redford and Ms. Streep have all deferred their usual upfront fees or percentages of gross revenue in exchange for cumulatively splitting half of the film’s profit with UA.

Ms. Wagner would not discuss the numbers, joking that she “never discusses her budgets or her age.” But she said that the structure was typical of how she envisions UA: as a trusted partner rather than as a big studio with arcane accounting that prompts agents to insist that their most bankable clients are paid up front.

Of course, Ms. Wagner is now something of an expert in the perks and pitfalls of life at a big studio. All she needs to do is flash back to last fall, to the Cruise/Wagner Productions offices on the Paramount lot. Cruise/Wagner was initially fueled by the adrenalin of Mr. Cruise’s star power in the early 1990s, when he anchored hits like “A Few Good Men,” “The Firm” and “Days of Thunder.”

Over nearly 15 years, Cruise/Wagner produced 13 films, aided in the latter years by a plush overhead deal from Paramount in which Paramount provided office space and underwrote their projects in exchange for a first crack at bringing them to the screen. The result of that collaboration was films approaching a gross of $3 billion at the box office, with Cruise/Wagner having particular success in shepherding the lucrative “Mission: Impossible” franchise to the big screen for Paramount.

But last year Viacom was in transition, and the studio’s new overseers, the Paramount chief executive, Brad Grey and the Viacom chief, Tom Freston — like other Hollywood chieftains — believed that they were spending too much money on too many co-producers. Where Cruise/Wagner was concerned, they reasoned that the studio could just as easily work out a deal with Mr. Cruise to shoot another “Mission: Impossible” installment by hiring him and Ms. Wagner as producers, without subsidizing their company.

What’s more, Cruise/Wagner’s track record was strong with films starring Mr. Cruise, but those that did not feature the actor — pictures like “The Others,” “Elizabethtown,” “Shattered Glass” and “Narc” — had “mixed” commercial success, according to an executive with knowledge of the discussions.

“Any producer who makes more than one or two films in their lifetime — with the exception perhaps of Tom Cruise — has a ‘mixed’ thing,” Ms. Wagner says when asked if that was a fair assessment of her partnership with Mr. Cruise. Viacom declined to comment.

As the mood in Hollywood changed and Paramount offered a greatly reduced production deal, Ms. Wagner says that she and Mr. Cruise decided that it was time for a change. Following the lead of other successful producers like Ivan Reitman and Joel Silver, they wanted to tap into the new Wall Street and hedge fund money flowing into Hollywood.

Under these new business arrangements, big-name producers can control nearly every aspect of filmmaking — even the most exalted perk, the ability to greenlight a picture. Big studios remain crucial to a film’s success under this new model, but largely as marketers and distributors.

ONE Wednesday morning last August, Mr. Redstone, in an interview that appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, announced that he had fired Mr. Cruise.

Mr. Cruise’s antics, Mr. Redstone contended, had cost him money.

Indeed, while “Mission: Impossible III” grossed close to $134 million at the box office domestically, it fell $81 million shy of the previous installment. And the roughly $70 million that Mr. Cruise took home as his share of the film’s worldwide receipts meant that he probably earned more than Paramount did on the picture, said an executive with direct knowledge of the film’s financial results. Ms. Wagner and Viacom would not confirm that calculation.

Mr. Redstone’s comments came in the wake of Mr. Cruise’s statements about his faith in Scientology, his public declarations of love for his girlfriend — and now wife — Katie Holmes, and his crusade against prescription antidepressants. Ms. Wagner bristles when she recalls the episode. “Tom Cruise, in 10 months, for Paramount Pictures, generated just under $1 billion,” she says, referring to the box office take of his last two films, “Mission: Impossible III” and “War of the Worlds.”

Mr. Cruise’s so-called firing was extraordinary in Hollywood — and nothing personal, Mr. Redstone has said in subsequent interviews. Mr. Cruise’s camp says that his contract had merely expired and that he was already planning to move on. That issue aside, the incident raised a salient question in filmdom: had the pay for talent grown out of kilter with the financial realities of the marketplace?

In the uncertain days that followed, Cruise/Wagner announced a deal to develop films for a company backed by Daniel Snyder, the investor who owns the Washington Redskins, but it was hardly the big move that showed the world that they were unfazed. Friends of Mr. Cruise, meanwhile, advised him to focus less on his production business and more on picking smart follow-ups to “Mission: Impossible III” so he could put the bad publicity behind him.

FOR Harry Sloan, meanwhile, the raging headlines about Mr. Cruise gave him a flash of inspiration. After taking charge of MGM in 2005 at the behest of its main investors, Providence Equity Partners and the Texas Pacific Group, Mr. Sloan set out to revive the company, which also counts Sony and Comcast as investors. The private equity firms had initially backed the Sony Corporation’s $5 billion takeover of MGM from the investor Kirk Kerkorian in 2004, with the strategy that MGM would be largely shuttered and its 4,000-film library fed through the distribution pipeline of Sony Pictures.

But the investors, unhappy with MGM’s performance under the Sony strategy, changed course after a year and installed Mr. Sloan, an MGM director, as the studio’s chief executive. Mr. Sloan, an entertainment lawyer turned entrepreneur, founded SBS Broadcasting in Europe in the early 1990s and sold it three years ago for $2.6 billion. The venture made him a tidy fortune, an undisclosed portion of which he has reinvested in MGM.

In addition to moving the distribution of MGM’s home video business to 20th Century Fox, Mr. Sloan wanted to shore up MGM’s own television channels around the world by cutting deals with various small and independent producers. Mr. Sloan, who once served as chairman of Lion’s Gate Entertainment, also wanted to revive MGM’s movie-making capabilities, but without the expense of layers of creative executives and producers.

In an interview, Mr. Sloan estimated that big studios spent as much as $100 million apiece annually on films that are never released, and he called Hollywood’s film development deals “an enormous welfare project” for writers, agents and producers.

Mr. Sloan considered selling the UA brand name because it was doing nothing more for MGM than gathering dust in a closet. But when he saw Mr. Cruise’s broad smile flashed across the evening news during the Paramount dust-up, he decided to give him and Ms. Wagner the UA shingle to hang.

“You can’t lose,” Mr. Sloan says of the deal with Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner. “There are plenty of things I’m doing that have plenty of risk and downside. This is not one of them.”

So while the news media buzzed with speculation about whether Mr. Cruise’s career would be dented or even destroyed, Harry Sloan placed calls to Mr. Fields, the lawyer. He also phoned Mr. Cruise’s longtime representatives at Creative Artists Agency, whose co-chairman, Rick Nicita, is Ms. Wagner’s husband. (Ms. Wagner herself had been Mr. Cruise’s agent at the firm before becoming his production partner.)

Knowing that Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner would need to exit the Paramount lot in a hurry, Mr. Sloan offered them office space on the 11th floor of the MGM tower. Over the next two months, the three conducted a series of private meetings at Mr. Sloan’s office and home that involved contingents of lawyers and agents.

What emerged was what Ms. Wagner describes as a hybrid between a studio and a production company. Rather than the overhead deal they had at Paramount, Mr. Sloan proposed establishing an autonomous studio within a larger studio — a structure akin to the relationship that Mr. Spielberg’s studio, DreamWorks, now has with Paramount, but with real ownership attached.

“We all answer to somebody about something,” Ms. Wagner says. “It’s really the number of people you answer to. In this structure, Tom and I really answer to ourselves.”

According to people involved in the talks, the question of whether Mr. Cruise, whom Mr. Sloan did not know previously, was past his prime or a loose cannon came up, particularly among MGM’s private equity investors.

But Mr. Sloan concluded that Mr. Cruise was still a bankable star and filmmaker. Kelvin L. Davis, a partner at Texas Pacific who serves on MGM’s executive committee, said he came away from his initial meeting with Mr. Cruise impressed by his business acumen and his curiosity about the financial goals of his prospective backers.

“One of the things Tom said to me that impressed me early on,” Mr. Davis said, “was that he thought his artistic performance, his acting abilities, were best displayed when he felt a real sense of partnership with those who he was doing business with.”

After weeks of preliminary negotiations, Mr. Cruise met with Mr. Sloan in his office for the first time last October. During a meeting that lasted four hours, Mr. Cruise did not jump off the bronze sofa he was sitting on. Rather, he listened intently as Mr. Sloan proposed giving UA some of MGM’s franchise films to produce and suggested that its first project be the next “Terminator.”

Mr. Sloan recalls that Mr. Cruise responded, “Let’s not do something derivative” for a first film. “Let’s do something original.”

Since then, a partnership has been struck and Mr. Sloan has been to Mr. Cruise’s gala wedding in Italy. Mr. Sloan says he is convinced that Mr. Cruise has both the movie-making ability and the work ethic to make a success of UA. “He is driven, professional and a total perfectionist,” Mr. Sloan says. “I thought he was me in a lot of ways.”

Mr. Sloan calls his venture with Mr. Cruise an “interesting experiment” that he might extend to other dormant MGM brands like Orion Pictures. He also says that other artists could unite with Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner as equity owners of UA.

ONE of the lingering questions about UA is how well Ms. Wagner will fare in putting out four to six films a year, when she and Mr. Cruise previously averaged just one movie a year as producers aligned with Paramount. It is also unclear how Mr. Cruise will manage his loyalties and time among the many professional roles he juggles both inside and outside of UA. Last month, for instance, the Hollywood trades reported that he plans to make a comedy with Ben Stiller as the co-star at 20th Century Fox.

Mr. Cruise isn’t saying. But the answer to questions about his commitment may lie in another meeting he and Ms. Wagner held in Mr. Sloan’s office just a few days before the deal was announced last November.

The centerpiece of the meeting was a four-hour pow-wow with Jonathan M. Nelson, the chief executive of Providence Equity, whose 29 percent stake in MGM makes it the studio’s single largest shareholder. According to two people who would not agree to be named because it was a private meeting, Mr. Nelson was there to scope out Mr. Cruise’s intentions for UA before signing off on the deal.

At the meeting, Mr. Nelson declined an invitation to read the script for “Lions for Lambs,” these people said. But he was reassured by other things he saw. Like Mr. Sloan, Mr. Nelson was impressed by Mr. Cruise’s sense of purpose and the fact that the star had never responded publicly to Mr. Redstone’s lambasting. Instead, it became clear that Mr. Cruise had chosen a different way to fire back at the Viacom chairman: he was determined to let his results be his revenge.

An article last Sunday about United Artists misidentified one of the investors in its parent company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is the Texas Pacific Group, not Thomas H. Lee Partners. The article also referred incorrectly to the title of UA’s first film under its new managers in two references. It will be “Lions for Lambs,” not “Lambs for Lions.”

How we handle corrections

Explore Our Business Coverage

Dive deeper into the people, issues and trends shaping the world of business..

Stopping a Huge Cyberattack: A Microsoft engineer noticed something was off on a piece of software he worked on. He soon discovered someone was probably trying to gain access to computers all over the world .

Hoping for an A.I. Productivity Boost:  Economists doubt that A.I. is already visible in productivity data . Big companies, however, talk often about adopting it to improve efficiency.

Cashing In on Graffiti:  Brands, developers and even officials are embracing the global appeal of street art , but the boom comes with questions about preserving a neighborhood’s cultural cachet.

‘Twitter Menace’ or True Believer?: The deep-pocketed tech investor Garry Tan says he wants to save San Francisco. But his pugnacious online habits are making him enemies .

A C.E.O.’s Bold Claims:  Amira Yahyaoui, a human rights activist, promoted the success of her student aid start-up, Mos. Some of her statements do not add up .

an image, when javascript is unavailable

site categories

‘civil war’ takes box office spoils with $25.7m opening, best ever for a24 – sunday am update, tom cruise's movie studio imploding: paula wagner is doa at united artists; but was it suicide or murder by mgm.

By Nikki Finke

Nikki Finke

Editor in Chief

More Stories By Nikki

  • Deadline Turns 10 And Celebrates Disruptors: Nikki Finke Looks Back
  • ‘Thor 2’ Begins International Rollout: Stronger Starts In UK & France Than First
  • ‘Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire’ Tracking New November Record: Hot $140M-$150M

(Keep refreshing for latest news on this breaking story… Updates at bottom)

EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: What I forecast Monday about Paula Wagner and her future at United Artists has come to pass. I’m told that it’s all over except for the final last bit of negotiating. Sources tell me that Wagner has been bargaining the terms of her exit as United Artists’s CEO. MGM can’t fire her even though they’d like to because she was, and will remain, a co-owner. I’ve also been told that Wagner’s leaving will not affect Tom Cruise’s relationship to UA where he, too, remains a co-owner. “He’s staying on, but he has never been day to day,” an insider explains to me. “This was very hard for Tom. Everyone recognized that Paula has been a disaster. But to his credit, he wanted her to have an exit with honor.”

The behind-the-scenes rupture of any reasonable relationship between UA and MGM really became evident this week. That’s because no one outside of those two companies knew that Wagner’s inability to pull the trigger on projects is now threatening to kill part of the $500 million financing from Merrill Lynch. I’m told specified start dates and release dates haven’t been met, so UA could lose a goodly portion of that credit line. The only solution is now for MGM to step in and immediately greenlight two UA motion pictures by the trigger dates. But Wagner’s camp is trying to spin this as MGM usurping UA’s independent authority so that MGM boss Harry Sloan can finally get his hands on UA’s money since he hasn’t been able to score financing of his own.

When I wrote that post highly critical of Wagner’s CEO performance at UA on Monday (“Will the last person to leave United Artists turn out the lights?”), sources within the UA camp blamed MGM for the badmouthing. (Not so!) And now insiders claim to me that pushing out Paula is part and parcel of Sloan’s doing. “Harry assumed UA would just rollover and let him have the $500 million. That’s what this is all about. But it didn’t work out that way. So MGM has made it impossible for UA. But once Paula steps aside, Harry will still need Tom’s cooperation.” Today, the Wall Street Journal fell hook, line and sinker for this explanation. But there’s much more to this money angle.

Look, the fact is that every financing deal works a little differently because of the bars set, but basic requirements need to be met: a certain number of movies must be in production by a certain time, etc. But UA under Wagner was way behind on the timetable dictated by its financing, I’m told. “Paula wasn’t greenlighting movies, so she was about to lose a lot of the money. Her camp is trying to say MGM screwed up. They didn’t, she did. Now MGM can get UA moving on at least two movies, and make sure they’re released by a certain date, to keep the financing intact,” an insider confided to me.

On Monday, veteran studio executive and film/TV producer Jeff Kleeman left his position as EVP of production at UA after only 11 months, joining the departure of prez of worldwide marketing and publicity Dennis Rice in mid-July. That meant UA was now populated by only Cruise, Wagner, Don Granger and a few junior execs. Tom and Paula together own about 30% of the studio; MGM owns the remainder. But UA never established itself as anything other than a vanity deal for Cruise with Wagner at the helm — which is exactly what I said this would be when it was announced back on November 2nd, 2006. Their UA made just two films, both starring Tom — Lions For Lambs , which bombed, and Valkyrie , whose release was delayed amid bad buzz.

So lately the studio was virtually moribund, heartbreaking considering that big fat credit line UA had in these impossibly tightfisted times. As a source told me, “There’s frustration inside and outside UA that, in an economy where it’s so difficult to come by money, what’s there is just not being spent. Do the UA people even know how to develop in an appropriate or effective manner?” MGM and even people inside UA certainly thought that answer was no.

But even UA sources told me the problem at the studio was Wagner, not Cruise. She wasn’t pulling the trigger on projects. As I suggested, just look at her history : Paula had unlimited ability to develop projects under C/W’s longterm deal at Paramount and still produced only half a dozen movies that didn’t involve Tom, most of them bombs. She squandered an incredible opportunity then and now. As one source explained to me, the only future for UA was if “Paula calls it a day, or the company implodes on its own, or a gun is put to Wagner’s head by financiers and she greenlights things and then trusts in luck…”

How true those predictions were. That said, I hear Wagner wants to go back to producing movies, but this time around she’ll do it on her own. Her longtime production company with Cruise, C/W, which had its heyday at Paramount, is dormant and there are no plans to start it up again. Especially since there’ve been a series of rifts between Wagner and Cruise. It looks clear that Paula will go do her thing, and Cruise will do his.

UPDATE #1: MGM came out with this press release: “Paula Wagner, Chief Executive Officer of UA, has decided to leave her day-to-day responsibilities and return to her first love, which is producing films. As such, MGM and UA confirmed today that Ms. Wagner will transition to the role of a producer under her own independent production shingle and be attached to UA’s most exciting film properties. In November 2006, United Artists was reborn under a partnership formed between Tom Cruise, Ms. Wagner and MGM.  Ms. Wagner will continue to be a part owner of UA and hold a significant stake in UA’s future success.  Nothing will change in regard to Mr. Cruise’s involvement with UA and he continues to have a substantial ownership interest in the company. Furthermore, Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner will continue to work on film projects together.

UPDATE #2: Paula Wagner’s statement through a publicist: “I’ve truly relished working with my longtime partner Tom Cruise to revitalize United Artists, and I am proud of all that we’ve accomplished in the past two years, reinvigorating the brand and developing such a strong slate of films. But I always tell my sons, ‘Follow your passion’ – and I’ve got to follow that advice myself. As much as I’ve enjoyed my time as an executive, I have longed to return to my true love, which is making movies, so that’s what I’ve decided to do. I still believe in our vision for UA, and I am confident that Harry Sloan and our colleagues at MGM will see that vision through to reality.”

UPDATE #3: UA announced today that the long delayed Valkyrie has a new release date. Originally scheduled for 2008, then pushed back to February 2009, it’s now back on for this December 26th.

  • Another Top Executive Exits United Artists
  • EXCLUSIVE: MGM/UA Marketing Shake-Up
  • WGA-UA Side Deal Now Officially Unveiled
  • WGA To Announce Side Deal With Tom Cruise’s United Artists; Now Studio Moguls Mad At MGM’s Sloan
  • So Germany’s Film Ban Isn’t Due To Tom?
  • Tom Cruise Is Finally Shown The Money
  • Germany Bans Tom’s Latest Film Just As Cruise’s UA Starts High-Profile Campaign
  • Dennis Rice Leaving Disney For UA
  • Tom Cruise & Paula Wagner Redo UA Logo
  • Sumner Redstone, Tom Cruise, & UA…
  • The 411 On Tom’s Partner Paula Wagner
  • Tom Cruise And Paula Wagner Take Over United Artists

Must Read Stories

Ryan gosling tries to break up with ken; caitlin clark crashes ‘weekend update’.

why did cruise and wagner split

Despite B- Score, Lots Of Heat With A24-Record $25.7M Opening

Podcast back in feisty fashion with teamsters negotiator lindsay dougherty, remembering the matriarch of legendary filmmaker family.

Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.

Read More About:


Deadline is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2024 Deadline Hollywood, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Tom Cruise and production partner split

Share this:.

  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
  • Click to print (Opens in new window)
  • Entertainment
  • Multimedia/Video

Breaking News

Red sox lineups: rafael devers sits again for series finale against angels.

Paula Wagner.

Tom Cruise and his longtime production partner, Paula Wagner, are no longer United, E! Online reports. Wagner announced earlier this week that she’s leaving her chief executive post at the new United Artists – the nearly century-old studio she and Cruise resurrected after losing their spot at Paramount in 2006 – to pursue projects independently. “I support her in anything she does,” Cruise said in a statement yesterday. According to L.A. Weekly’s Deadline Hollywood blog, her departure is directly related to Cruise’s trouble-plagued World War II thriller “Valkyrie.” “Everyone recognized that Paula has been a disaster,” the source snitched. “But to (Tom’s) credit, he wanted her to have an exit with honor.”

More in News

By DOUG FEINBERG (AP Basketball Writer) NEW YORK (AP) — Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” during the show’s “ Weekend Update ” segment. The Iowa star is in New York for the WNBA draft on Monday night, when she is expected to be the top pick by the Indiana Fever. […]

Iowa star Caitlin Clark makes surprise appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’

The unprecedented attack by Iran on Israel early Sunday ratcheted up regional tensions. It confirmed long-held fears about the Israel-Hamas war spiraling into a broader conflagration. But Iran, Israel, the United States and Hamas also walked away with some gains. Israel may have restored faith in its military, while Iran has shown that it can and will respond. The U.S. stood by Israel and is now hoping to influence Israel not to respond further. Hamas is backed by Iran but had not seen direct Iranian intervention in the wider conflict until now.

World | Iran’s attack on Israel raises fears of a wider war, but all sides have also scored gains

Months after the MBTA made public wide-spread track issues on the Green Line Extension that forced trains to a crawl last year, MBTA boss Phillip Eng said there were enough warning signs early-on in the project that officials should have paused construction before service started.


Politics | pols & politics: mbta should have halted glx project after red flags surfaced, eng says.

Measles was under control in the United States, but we are seeing outbreaks again in areas where vaccination rates have fallen. Because measles is so contagious, outbreaks happen quickly.

What parents need to know about measles

why did cruise and wagner split

  • Tickets & Showtimes
  • Trending on RT

Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner Make United Artists Strikeproof

Wga continues chipping away at amptp's resolve..

why did cruise and wagner split

His big-screen alter egos have saved the world on numerous occasions, and now it seems as though Tom Cruise — and his partner Paula Wagner — may have helped bring an end to the writers’ strike.

No one is setting down their picket signs just yet, but Variety reports that Cruise and Wagner, who run United Artists, have followed in the footsteps of David Letterman ‘s Worldwide Pants production company, brokering an interim deal with the Writers Guild of America. The terms of the deal, though not immediately available, will follow the precedent set by the Worldwide Pants agreement. From the article:

For UA toppers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, it’s a major declaration of independence from MGM and underlines that the duo — who have a 35% stake in UA — have the final say in operations. The deal affords the revived studio an opportunity to move forward on projects after initially stumbling out of the gate with “ Lions for Lambs .”

Though MGM had no comment about the deal, sources said over the weekend that MGM topper Harry Sloan has opposed the UA interim deal and added that it was highly unlikely that MGM would break ranks from the congloms and sign its agreement before the strike ends.

The deal comes too late to save Oliver Stone ‘s Pinkville , which ceased production after the strike started and has already lost star Bruce Willis to another project, and it won’t bring an end to the strike all by itself; United Artists, under the terms of its current financing arrangement, is only set to release “15-18 films over the next five years.” It does open the door, however, for the WGA to continue its “divide and conquer” strategy, proving the Guild’s terms are reasonable enough to function at the indie level — and making UA highly attractive to investors who may not want to wait for the strike to end before making their next film.

According to Variety , Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company “are viewed as the most likely to sign interim deals with the guild”; the Weinsteins have been vetting a WGA proposal for the last couple of weeks, and Lionsgate has a deal on the table as well. From the article:

Such a deal would not be surprising for the Weinsteins, who have been strong supporters of screenwriters. The brothers formed the indie operation two years ago after a dozen years of working for Disney.

For Lionsgate, a pact with the WGA could be more complicated than for UA or TWC since the company also has TV operations. Lionsgate’s been in an expansion mode, taking stakes in Mandate Pictures, Break.com and Roadside Attractions and setting a $400 million, 23-picture theatrical slate financing agreement.

Source: Variety

Related News

Golden Tomato Award 2023 Winners Give Thanks To Critics & Fans

Tom Cruise Movies Ranked

Tom Cruise on Performing His Own Stunts and Dead Reckoning Details

Fallout : What It Gets Right, and What It Gets Wrong

CinemaCon 2024: Day 3 – Disney Previews Deadpool & Wolverine , Moana 2 , Alien: Romulus , and More

Renewed and Cancelled TV Shows 2024

Movie & TV News

Featured on rt.

April 12, 2024

April 11, 2024

TV Premiere Dates 2024

Top Headlines

  • Best Movies of 2024: Best New Movies to Watch Now –
  • 25 Most Popular TV Shows Right Now: What to Watch on Streaming –
  • 30 Most Popular Movies Right Now: What to Watch In Theaters and Streaming –
  • Best Horror Movies of 2024 Ranked – New Scary Movies to Watch –
  • Box Office 2024: Top 10 Movies of the Year –
  • Best TV Shows of 2024: Best New Series to Watch Now –
  • Today's news
  • Reviews and deals
  • Climate change
  • 2024 election
  • Fall allergies
  • Health news
  • Mental health
  • Sexual health
  • Family health
  • So mini ways
  • Unapologetically
  • Buying guides


  • How to Watch
  • My watchlist
  • Stock market
  • Biden economy
  • Personal finance
  • Stocks: most active
  • Stocks: gainers
  • Stocks: losers
  • Trending tickers
  • World indices
  • US Treasury bonds
  • Top mutual funds
  • Highest open interest
  • Highest implied volatility
  • Currency converter
  • Basic materials
  • Communication services
  • Consumer cyclical
  • Consumer defensive
  • Financial services
  • Industrials
  • Real estate
  • Mutual funds
  • Credit cards
  • Credit card rates
  • Balance transfer credit cards
  • Business credit cards
  • Cash back credit cards
  • Rewards credit cards
  • Travel credit cards
  • Checking accounts
  • Online checking accounts
  • High-yield savings accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Car insurance
  • Home buying
  • Options pit
  • Investment ideas
  • Research reports
  • Fantasy football
  • Pro Pick 'Em
  • College Pick 'Em
  • Fantasy baseball
  • Fantasy hockey
  • Fantasy basketball
  • Download the app
  • Daily fantasy
  • Scores and schedules
  • GameChannel
  • World Baseball Classic
  • Premier League
  • CONCACAF League
  • Champions League
  • Motorsports
  • Horse racing
  • Newsletters

New on Yahoo

  • Privacy Dashboard

Why Tom Cruise joining forces with Warner Bros. is a bigger deal than you think

  • Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again later. More content below

Tom Cruise has joined Warner Bros. to develop and produce feature films together. Sounds like a boring behind-the-scenes detail about film production, but it’s actually quite a significant move in the career of the world’s biggest action star.

Cruise, 61, who rose to fame in the 80s for starring in blockbusters like 1986’s Top Gun has gained a reputation in the 21st century as the last of the great action movie stars for his commitment to death-defying stunts and propping up the Mission Impossible series alongside hits like 2022’s sequel Top Gun: Maverick .

ESNS 2024 Preview: the massive music event taking over Groningen this January

A French film wreaked havoc in cinemas. Why is ‘Les SEGPA Au Ski’ so controversial?

For those in the know, they’ll be aware that Cruise has done a lot of these films through his own production company Cruise/Wagner Productions, started in 1993. Through Cruise/Wagner, the actor has produced all of the Mission Impossible films alongside playing the lead role, alongside the Jack Reacher series and other films.

Cruise is one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood and his films have grossed over $13 billion (nearly €12 billion) worldwide. Many of his most successful films have been produced alongside Paramount Pictures as a distributor. Paramount ended their 14-year relationship with Cruise in 2006 after Mission: Impossible III , but reunited in 2011 for the next film in the series, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol .

The announcement that Cruise has now tied his mast to the Warner Bros. ship is therefore a big boon for the production studio. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has said he wanted to work with more top talent both in front and behind the camera, and you can’t get much bigger than Cruise.

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group’s Co-Chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy said: “We are thrilled to be working with Tom, an absolute legend in the film industry. Our vision, from day one, has been to rebuild this iconic studio to the heights of its glory days”.

De Luca and Abdy continued that when they first sat down with Zaslav, he told them: “We are on a mission to bring Warner Bros. back – we have the best resources, storytelling IP, and talent in the business – and we need to bring Tom Cruise back to Warner Bros!”

Cruise himself said that “I have great respect and admiration for David, Pam, Mike, and the entire team at Warner Bros. Discovery and their commitment to movies, movie fans, and the theatrical experience,” in a Warner Bros. press release. “I look forward to making great movies together!” he continued.

Zaslav's tenure as CEO of Warner Bros. has not been without controversy. Particularly for his decisions to slash budgets, removal of TV series from streaming ( Westworld ) and shelving films altogether ( Batgirl).

Batgirl movie shelved by Warner Bros.: a potential death knell for the superhero genre?

It’s unclear as of now how this deal between Cruise and Warner Bros. will manifest and what films will follow.

The actor-studio deal could also have wider ramifications around industry rumours that Warner Bros. and Paramount are considering a merger . Zaslav met Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish in December about a potential deal between the $29 billion (€26 billion) and $10 billion (€9 billion) companies, respectively.

Recommended Stories

Nike responds to backlash over team usa track kits, notes athletes can wear shorts.

The new female track uniform looked noticeably skimpy at the bottom in one picture, which social media seized upon.

'Sasquatch Sunset' is so relentlessly gross that people are walking out of screenings. Star Jesse Eisenberg says the film was a ‘labor of love.’

“There are so many movies made for people who like typical things. This is not that," the film's star told Yahoo Entertainment.

UFC 300: Max Holloway takes 'BMF' title with one of the wildest KOs in MMA history

Max Holloway is a certified BMF. And then some.

76ers' statue for Allen Iverson draws jokes, outrage due to misunderstanding: 'That was disrespectful'

Iverson didn't get a life-size statue. Charles Barkley and Wilt Chamberlain didn't either.

UFC 300: Kayla Harrison introduces herself to UFC fans with utter domination of Holly Holm

Harrison was quick to call for a title fight after the win, and it's hard to imagine why she wouldn't get it.

Masters: Augusta National asked Jason Day to take off billboard sweater

At Augusta National, green jackets are a fashion statement. Sweaters with billboard-size logos, not so much.

Travis Kelce receives his University of Cincinnati diploma, chugs a beer on stage

Nobody is going to change the Kelce brothers.

UFC 300: Kayla Harrison makes weight before bantamweight bout versus Holly Holm

Kayla Harrison made the 135-pound weight limit required for her bantamweight bout at UFC 300 versus Holly Holm. It's the lowest weight at which she has ever fought.

UFC 300: Alex Pereira emphatically defends light heavyweight belt with 1st-round KO of Jamahal Hill

Alex Pereira is a dangerous man.

2025 Toyota 4Runner (finally!) revealed, and the new Trailhunter is extremely cool

The 2025 Toyota 4Runner is finally arriving this fall with a full lineup including returning TRD Pro and new Trailhunter. Hybrid power now available.

2024 NBA Awards: All-NBA, All-Defensive and All-Rookie selections

Here's one voter's awards ballot with All-NBA, All-Defensive and All-Rookie selections.

Republicans (?!?) are killing a tax cut

In a flip of the usual priorities, Senate Republicans seem likely to kill a set of tax cuts that have already passed the House and are broadly popular. Here's why.

2024 NBA Awards: Official picks for MVP, Rookie of the Year and every individual honor

With the 2023-24 NBA season coming to an end, here's one voter's award ballot, breaking down the top candidates — and declaring the winners.

Alex Sarr, potential No. 1 pick, declares for 2024 NBA Draft

International basketball prospect Alex Sarr declared for the 2024 NBA Draft. Playing this season for Perth in Australia's National Basketball League, Sarr is projected as a No. 1 overall selection.

2024 NFL Draft guide: 32 teams, 32 needs, picks, best fits and more

What selections does your team have? What areas should it address? Who's the dream fantasy pick? We cover all that and more for every franchise right here.

Fantasy Baseball Trade Analyzer: Players to sell high, buy low — and one to go all-in on

April is the perfect time of the season to buy low, sell low, buy high and sell high on key players — but you need to know who fits in what department. Fred Zinkie helps fantasy baseball managers with an initial batch.

Report: Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore planned significant payroll cuts with Timberwolves

Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore reportedly planned to bring the Timberwolves below the projected luxury tax threshold next season, which left Glen Taylor very concerned.

Why Nvidia's stock sell-off matters and what people are saying about it

Is it a big deal that Nvidia's stock is lagging?

2024 NFL Draft: Top 100 big board goes in-depth on names to know ahead of marquee offseason event

Yahoo Sports' Nate Tice has Drake Maye at No. 1, Caleb Williams at No. 2, and a whole lot of intrigue after in a deep class at wide receiver, offensive line and cornerback.

NBA Playoff Picture: Everything at stake entering Friday with 17 teams still playing for seeding

Here are the latest updates on the landscape, including magic numbers, relevant tiebreakers and the stakes for Friday's slate of games.

Symbol Matches

Symbol starts with, company matches.

  • International
  • Switzerland

The movie company is concerned that Cruise's behavior hurt his most recent film, "Mission: Impossible 3," said the report.

"As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Redstone was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal . "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

A statement from Cruise/Wagner Productions tried to characterize the split as more of a mutual decision.

"Agents for Cruise/Wagner Production Company ceased negotiations with Paramount over a week ago and has since secured independent financing," said the spokesman for the firm.

Paula Wagner, Cruise's partner, told the Journal that Cruise/Wagner Productions had decided to set up its own independent operation, backed by two unnamed hedge funds. She also noted in her comments to the Journal that Cruise had made Paramount vast sums of money over the years.

Cruise has worked with Paramount on hit films such as "Mission: Impossible," "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder."

But speculation has been on the rise that Cruise, and mega-stars in general, are not worth the price , especially when personal behavior intrudes on their public persona.

Cruise has starred in 27 movies producing an average box office gross of $99.9 million, according to The-Movie-Times.com, an online Hollywood database.

The database estimates that the total gross of his movies has been $2.6 billion, good for No. 5 among all actors, as 13 of his films have done U.S. box office of $100 million or better. Only Tom Hanks, with 14 $100 million films, has done better.

In June 2006 Cruise took the No.1 spot on Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's 100 most powerful stars. In the last 10 years all but one of his movies have grossed more than $200 million worldwide. His top-grossing movie was "War of the Worlds" (2005), which topped $590 million around the world.

His pay has been among the tops in the industry. He received $75 million for "Mission Impossible II," according to Movie-Times.com. The film is his No. 2 best grossing film, with worldwide box office of $420.4 million.

But "Mission Impossible III," which came out in May, was seen as a disappointment, with a $47.7 million opening weekend at U.S. theaters, below the $65 million to $70 million that had been projected by some box office trackers. The film debuted in 4,054 theaters, the fourth largest debut to that point.

Still box office tracking service Box Office Mojo puts the worldwide gross of "Mission Impossible III" at $393 million.

"Internationally, Cruise is an even bigger draw," said Brandon Gray president and publisher of Box Office Mojo.

However Hollywood's highest accolade - an Oscar - has eluded Cruise, despite three acting nominations for his roles in "Magnolia", "Jerry Maguire" and "Born on the Fourth of July."

In May 2006, a USA/Today poll showed his public approval rating had slipped to 35 percent. Many of those polled cited his blunt criticism of actress Brooke Shield's treatment for depression and of psychiatry in general.

In 2005, he became the butt of jokes for a manic, couch-hopping TV appearance declaring his love for girlfriend Katie Holmes on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Reuters contributed to this report.


Who needs Mad Mel and Cruisazy Tom?

why did cruise and wagner split

Who Loses in the Split — Paramount or Cruise?

why did cruise and wagner split

Chairman and CEO of Viacom Sumner Redstone with actor Tom Cruise, and actress Katie Holmes in happier times: a screening of "Mission: Impossible III" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 4, 2006, in Hollywood, California.

Tom Cruise, Paramount break ties

Social sharing.

Hollywood's latest break-up involves movie star Tom Cruise and his studio, Paramount Pictures.

Though he's largely been out of the spotlight for a few months since the birth of his daughter, Cruise has not escaped fallout from his bizarre behaviour over the past year.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, the head of Paramount's parent company, Viacom Inc.,announced the studio was ending its relationship with the Mission Impossible star. Paramount has maintained a contract with Cruise's film production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions, for 14 years. The latest contract is set to expire Aug. 31.

"As much as we like him personally… we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Viacomchair Sumner Redstone told the Journal.

"It's nothing to do with his acting ability. He's a terrific actor," Redstone continued.

"But we don't think that someone who effects creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot."

Outrageous behaviour led to public relations fiasco

After years of being guarded about his personal life, Cruise appeared to explode out of his shell last year.

He engaged in a whirlwind public romance with younger actress Katie Holmes, began vocally promoting his Scientology faith, leaped onto talk show host Oprah Winfrey's couch on-air while proclaiming his love for Holmes and, in interviews, criticized actress Brooke Shields for taking prescription drugs to treat her postpartum depression (Scientologists denounce psychiatry and its medication).

The media frenzy over Cruise and Holmes intensified when they announced they were expecting a child together. In April, Holmes gave birth to Suri Cruise —coincidentally, the same day as Shields gave birth to her second child. The couple has been maintaining a lower profile since.

Nevertheless, Cruise's star power was seriously damaged by his public outbursts. Though he recently topped Forbes magazine'sannual list of powerful celebrities, the ticket sales for his last film, Mission: Impossible III , were lower than expected. Around the time the film was released in May, a Gallup poll found that more than half of the respondents surveyed had developed an "unfavourable" opinion of the star, whose credits include Top Gun , Jerry Maguire , Magnolia, War of the Worlds and Born on the Fourth of July .

He said, she said

Cruise's longtime business partner Paula Wagner shot back at Redstone's announcement later Tuesday, saying it was Cruise/Wagner Productions that decided against renewing the contract with Paramount in favour of seeking independent financing.

Wagner added that Redstone's pronouncement was "surprising."

"For some reason, Paramount has chosen to negotiate in the press," she said. "It's not really the most businesslike approach."

According to Wagner, Paramount's collaboration with Cruise/Wagner Productions has produced $2.5 billion US worth of business. Still, she says, she and Cruise have considered seeking independent financing "for a long time."

Viacom and Paramount have declined further comment.

With files from the Associated Press.

Related Stories

  • Tom Cruise tops Forbes star power list
  • It's a girl for Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes
  • Tom cruises to Razzie Award

From the kitchen to the laundry room, 5 home upgrades you didn't know you needed — from $8

  • TODAY Plaza
  • Share this —

Health & Wellness

  • Watch Full Episodes
  • Read With Jenna
  • Inspirational
  • Relationships
  • TODAY Table
  • Newsletters
  • Start TODAY
  • Shop TODAY Awards
  • Citi Music Series
  • Listen All Day

Follow today

More Brands

  • On The Show

Tom Cruise, MGM form new United Artists

Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner have been put in charge of United Artists, a film studio that was formed nearly 90 years ago by Hollywood actors including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford.

Wagner will serve as chief executive of the company, which is owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Cruise will appear in UA films, but also be allowed to star in films from rival studios, MGM announced Thursday.

The development is a major comeback for Cruise and Wagner. They were unceremoniously dumped in August from their 14-year producing deal at Paramount Studios after Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount parent company Viacom Inc., blamed Cruise’s public antics for hurting the box-office performance of “Mission:Impossible III.”

MGM said Thursday that Cruise and Wagner have taken an ownership interest in UA, but did not specify financial terms.

Cruise and Wagner will have full control of the production slate, which is expected to be four films a year, MGM said.

'Equity owners in the company' “There is a complete alignment of interests in this deal,” MGM chief operating officer Rick Sands told The Associated Press Thursday. “They are equity owners in the company and they share with us in the upside.”

Two weeks after being cut loose by Paramount, Cruise/Wagner Productions signed a two-year financing deal with an investment partnership headed by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

That deal with First & Goal LLC covers overhead and development for films produced by Cruise and Wagner, but is not part of Thursday’s deal, Sands said.

United Artists has been virtually mothballed for several years, although the studio’s logo will appear on the latest James Bond film, “Casino Royale,” due out in two weeks.

Most recently, UA had been used to acquire or produce low-budget independent films.

Celebrity Sightings

Slideshow    26 photos

Celebrity sightings.

But under Cruise and Wagner, the studio is free to make $100 million action films starring Cruise, as well as lower budget fare, MGM said.

“It really depends on what they as the creative executives want to produce,” Sands said. “It’s a real studio that we are reinventing.”

Sands said financing for the films would come from partnerships with private equity funds that have become more influential in Hollywood in recent years.

A return to UA for Cruise Cruise’s last appearance in a UA film was in “Rain Man” in 1988, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Sands said he does not have any concerns about Cruise’s public behavior having any impact on his new role atop the studio.

“We believe Tom is a terrific creative force,” Sands said. “If you look at his track record, he’s generated huge box office and we believe the relationship of being a partner is different from a studio/actor relationship.”

United Artists was founded in 1919 by Chaplin, Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. The studio operated as an artist-centered company for decades, churning out such hits as “Some Like It Hot” and a string of James Bond films, starting with 1962’s “Dr. No.”

In 1967 the company was sold to Transamerica, which owned it until 1981 when it was bought by MGM. In 1980, the studio released one of the most notorious flops in movie history, “Heaven’s Gate.”

In 2004, MGM was bought by a consortium that includes Sony Corp., Comcast Corp. and private equity companies Providence Equity Partners Inc., Texas Pacific Group and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.

why did cruise and wagner split

Why a major Miami cruise company has canceled over a dozen international trips for 2025

M iami-based Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled at least 14 cruises on 7 ships in 2025 as a booming industry confronts global conflict and other issues.

The cancellations include trips in May and September on Norwegian Viva, the company’s newest ship, and ones in April through June on Norwegian Sky, which frequently sails from PortMiami.

Norwegian said customers who are affected will get a full refund and a 10% discount on future sailings through Dec. 31, 2025.

In a statement, the company said that the cancellations “are a result of varied events, including the ongoing situation in the Red Sea and Israel, modified dry dock schedules for ship enhancements, a full ship charter, and lastly, to accommodate the demand for shorter close-to-home voyages to the Bahamas.”

Suspended trips include the Norwegian Jade from Feb. 20 through March 24, 2025. That ship often departs from Port Canaveral.

Norwegian remains optimistic about cruising. This week, the company ordered eight new ships, its largest ever single purchase, a milestone celebrated at Seatrade Cruise Global, a four-day annual industry conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. They will be delivered between 2026 and 2036.

Since the terror group Hamas attacked Israel and the Gaza war started in October, cruise companies have been canceling trips to the Middle East.

Next year’s cruise cancellations affect passengers of the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Sky, and Norwegian Viva.

A March 28 letter to passengers said: “We have been monitoring the situation in Israel, and despite our best hopes that it would de-escalate, we have made the decision to alter published itineraries that transit through and around the region.”

For Epic, the decision was made “in order to reroute her and accommodate the early start to her Caribbean cruise season.”

The Sky will be rerouted around Africa and deployed to Eastern, Western, and Southern Africa, a letter to those passengers said.

Viva is being sent to the Mediterranean, passengers were told in a letter.

Despite any security risks, major airlines including United and Delta have said they will resume flights to Israel. Next week, El Al resumes non-stop service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tel Aviv twice a week. The Israeli airline continues to offer five flights a week from Miami International Airport.

Norwegian in its statement said the cruise company remains committed to taking its guests to “some of the most sought-out destinations around the world.” But sometimes, itineraries need to be modified to “accommodate certain circumstances.”

Other reasons for the cruise changes

But security in the Middle East isn’t the only reason for the changes.

The Norwegian Star canceled because of a “full ship charter.” That means a private organization offered to rent out the whole ship for an entire trip.

The Norwegian Spirit underwent a planned renovation in less time than anticipated, and so now wants to use that time for a longer trip. “As the renovation period will be complete prior to schedule, we now have the opportunity to enhance the originally scheduled January 21, 2025 itinerary, and offer a longer and more immersive experience,” it told guests in a letter.

Meanwhile the canceled sailings on the Norwegian Jade from Feb. 20 through March 25 is “part of a fleet redeployment to accommodate strong demand for cruises through the Panama Canal and to the Bahamas,” the company wrote in a letter to passengers.

Cruise cancellations list

Here is a full list of cruises canceled by Norwegian is listed here, provided by the company:

  • Norwegian Spirit: Jan. 21, 2025
  • Norwegian Jade: Feb. 20 through March 24, 2025
  • Norwegian Sky: April 19 through June 5, 2025
  • Norwegian Star: May 17 through June 9, 2025
  • Norwegian Viva: May 18 and 27, and Sept. 20 and 29, 2025
  • Norwegian Pearl: Oct. 15, 2025
  • Norwegian Epic: Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, 2025

©2024 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Norwegian Epic docked at the Port of Miami in 2010.


  1. Cruise loses studio partner

    Thu 14 Aug 2008 05.28 EDT. It was supposed to be a new dawn: a chance for Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner to escape the rigours of the studio system and branch out on their own ...

  2. Paula Wagner: Tom Cruise's Former Producing Partner Explains What A

    Paula Wagner is an unfamiliar name for many film-goers, but if you watch the first three Mission:Impossible films, you'll notice they're made by Cruise/Wagner Productions. Wagner formed the production company with Tom Cruise in 1993. The joint venture marked Wagner's transition from casting agent at CAA to producer.

  3. Cruise/Wagner Productions

    Cruise/Wagner Productions. Cruise/Wagner Productions, also abbreviated as C/W Productions, was an American independent film production company. It was founded by actor Tom Cruise and his agent Paula Wagner in July 1992. [1] [2] [3] Wagner had been representing Cruise for eleven years before the formation of C/W Productions.

  4. Tom Cruise and The Failed United Artists Experiment

    Lurking in the corners of Netflix UK is a not-very-widely-seen Tom Cruise movie, that a decade ago was all set to herald a new filmmaking dawn. Directed by Robert Redford, and with a cast that ...

  5. Tom Cruise's company lands investor after split with Paramount

    Shapiro, a former ESPN entertainment executive, will oversee the Cruise/Wagner deal. "We believe that Cruise and Wagner are a terrific investment," Shapiro said. "The track record speaks for itself."

  6. Fired or Quit, Tom Cruise Parts Ways With Studio

    Ms. Wagner said that she and Mr. Cruise had already obtained commitments from two hedge funds, one in New York and one in Los Angeles, for $100 million in revolving credit to make movies, and that ...

  7. Tom Cruise splits from long-time partner

    The split of Cruise and Wagner came just two weeks after Wagner's husband Rick Nicita, also split with the star, with many in Hollywood seeing the development as a reflection of Cruise's ...

  8. Cruise in deal to revive UA

    The deal for Cruise and longtime associate Paula Wagner to own at least 30% of a resurrected United Artists reflects a changing economic climate in the movie industry in which outside money from ...

  9. Tom Cruise's producing partner leaves UA

    Tom Cruise's producing partner Paula Wagner says she will leave her job as chief executive of the United Artists studio to produce projects independently.Wagner says in a statement Wednesday that ...

  10. Mission Improbable: Tom Cruise as Mogul

    Regardless, the media firestorm and scrutiny of Mr. Cruise's career and conduct only intensified when, two months later, Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner landed at United Artists, which through ...

  11. Tom Cruise's production partner sounds off

    Now, his production partner Paula Wagner is sounding off to Access Hollywood's Billy Bush about the split. "For some reason they felt it was okay to do that to Tom Cruise now. In other words ...

  12. Tom Cruise's Movie Studio Imploding: Paula Wagner Is DOA At ...

    That meant UA was now populated by only Cruise, Wagner, Don Granger and a few junior execs. Tom and Paula together own about 30% of the studio; MGM owns the remainder.

  13. Tom Cruise and production partner split

    Tom Cruise and his longtime production partner, Paula Wagner, are no longer United, E! Online reports. Wagner announced earlier this week that she's leaving her chief executive post at the new ...

  14. Tom Cruise and his changing relationship with film directors

    Cruise/Wagner. Still, when the company went on to make Mission: Impossible for Paramount, Cruise hired Brian De Palma to direct, continuing that interesting run of collaborations. However, rumours abounded that the pair didn't get on while making the film, with De Palma withdrawing from the press tour and declining an offer to direct the ...

  15. Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner Make United Artists Strikeproof

    No one is setting down their picket signs just yet, but Variety reports that Cruise and Wagner, who run United Artists, have followed in the footsteps of David Letterman 's Worldwide Pants production company, brokering an interim deal with the Writers Guild of America. The terms of the deal, though not immediately available, will follow the ...

  16. Take That, Sumner! Tom Cruise Gets His Own Studio

    In August, Cruise/Wagner secured a two-year financing deal with First and Goal L.L.C., an investor group headed by Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins and chairman of the Six Flags amusement parks. Since then, Cruise seemed more interested in cheering at his kids' soccer games and planning his wedding to Katie Holmes this month in ...

  17. Why Tom Cruise joining forces with Warner Bros. is a bigger deal than

    Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has said he wanted to work with more top talent both in front and behind the camera, and you can't get much bigger than Cruise. Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group's Co-Chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy said: "We are thrilled to be working with Tom, an absolute legend in the film industry.

  18. Paramount Pictures cuts ties with Tom Cruise-WSJ

    A statement from Cruise/Wagner Productions tried to characterize the split as more of a mutual decision. "Agents for Cruise/Wagner Production Company ceased negotiations with Paramount over a week ...

  19. Cruise and Wagner to partner with MGM's UA group

    VIA. -0.09%. LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner will form a partnership with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to take over its United Artists film studio under a ...

  20. Who Loses in the Split

    The publicist added that Cruise's last two films, War of the Worlds and Mission Impossible 3, have grossed $977.8 million worldwide. "As an actor, Tom is responsible for almost $3 billion in box office revenue for Paramount," said Wagner. "That's more money than any other actor has made for any single studio in history."

  21. Tom Cruise, Paramount break ties

    The latest Hollywood divorce involves movie star Tom Cruise and his studio, Paramount Pictures. ... Cruise/Wagner Productions, for 14 years. The latest contract is set to expire Aug. 31.

  22. Tom Cruise, MGM form new United Artists

    Nov. 2, 2006, 10:43 AM PST / Source: The Associated Press. Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner have been put in charge of United Artists, a film studio that was formed nearly 90 years ...

  23. Cruise partner Wagner stepping down as UA chief

    Paula Wagner, the longtime producing partner of Tom Cruise, is stepping down as the chief executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's United Artists label, less than...

  24. Why a major Miami cruise company has canceled over a dozen ...

    cruise. Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled at least 14 cruises on 7 ships in 2025 as a booming industry confronts global conflict and other issues. The cancellations include trips in ...