Redstone, Cruise dispute reasons for pact's termination

The 14-year Tom Cruise-Paramount relationship has ended on a note of anger and outrage.

Cruise and production partner Paula Wagner said they have raised a revolving fund of $100 million from two hedge funds and are striking out on their own — including setting their next project at another studio.

Wagner denounced comments made by Sumner Redstone about Cruise as “outrageous and disrespectful.” Redstone told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that Par was ending its relationship with Cruise because “his recent conduct has not been acceptable.”

In fact, Wagner said that CAA, Cruise’s agency, terminated discussions with Par earlier in the week. After Cruise/Wagner made 14 films in 14 years (not all Par releases), the studio had declined to renew the original Cruise deal and offered a sharply reduced pact.

Cruise has been a tabloid regular over the past year due to his relationship with actress Katie Holmes, their daughter, his outspoken views on psychiatry and medication, and his increasingly outspoken advocacy for the Church of Scientology.

Wagner defended Cruise/Wagner’s longtime success for the studio, saying that the shingle’s product has accounted for 15% of Par’s theatrical revenue in the last 10 years and 32% for the past six years. Their credits include the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, “Vanilla Sky” and “War of the Worlds.”

The C/W shingle also produced “Elizabethtown,” “Ask the Dust” and “Suspect Zero.”

“Worlds” grossed $591 million worldwide, while “MI3” recently took in $393 million.

Studio insiders have long been aware of Redstone’s attitude that $10 million in overhead isn’t worth it especially given Cruise’s behavior.

In making his critical remarks about Cruise, Redstone has triggered an angry confrontation with one of Hollywood’s most important superstars and his power broker, CAA.

Rick Nicita (who is married to Wagner) and Kevin Huvane, the two agents who rep Cruise, denounced Redstone’s remarks as “shockingly offensive and graceless.”

In addition to finalizing the $100 million revolving fund, the reps at CAA are about to close on a C/W overhead deal with another entity but not a distributor, they said. Further, Cruise has decided on his next film as an actor and negotiations are commencing at another studio.

Insiders reacted sharply to the Redstone-Cruise imbroglio, suggesting that it points up the mixed messages that the studio has been sending. “When you talk to Paramount, which voice will respond to you?” asked one top agent.

Par is a much different studio than the one where C/W set up shop in the early ’90s. Jonathan Dolgen and Sherry Lansing guided the studio at the time when Cruise/Wagner rose to become the marquee shingle on Melrose Avenue.

But over the past two years, the studio saw a massive overhaul following the exits of Dolgen and Lansing, followed by the installation of chairman Brad Grey.

Grey reworked the executive ranks and its supplier chain with the acquisition of DreamWorks and several new producer deals — including another star pact with Brad Pitt and his Plan B shingle and, more recently, a lucrative pact for Cruise’s “MI3” helmer J.J. Abrams.

(William Triplett in Aspen, Colo., contributed to this report.)

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