Studios custom-tailor projects for the star

Tom Cruise is narrowing the prospects for his next film, but no matter which he chooses, he has single-handedly propped up the script doctoring biz: Studios have spent millions of dollars in rewrite fees to custom-tailor projects for the star.

The frontrunners for his next film appear to be the DreamWorks drama “Motorcade,” to be directed by Len Wiseman, followed by Spyglass remake “The Tourist” (with Charlize Theron), to be helmed by Bharat Nalluri, and Fox action comedy “Wichita” (with Cameron Diaz), which James Mangold will direct. Also still in the mix is MGM’s “The Matarese Circle,” which potentially matches Cruise with Denzel Washington and helmer David Cronenberg.

No longer in the mix are Universal/Working Title romantic comedy “Lost for Words,” to be directed by Susanne Bier, and “The 28th Amendment,” the drama Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck will helm for Warner Bros.

While screenwriters all over town have been taking haircuts on every deal, the script doctors in the Cruise derby have been making as much as $250,000 a week, for two to six weeks, as they hone projects with notes from Cruise. Those writers include Scott Frank, who has been revising the action comedy “Wichita” for Cruise to play an action hero; Richard Curtis, who beefed up “Lost for Words”; and Paul Attanasio, who is now rewriting the rewrite that “Matarese Circle” director Cronenberg delivered.

Meanwhile, Billy Ray continues to hone “Motorcade” with notes from Cruise. Christopher McQuarrie is doing the same on “The Tourist,” which the writer is also producing. (Ray and McQuarrie are not technically script doctors because they’ve been writing these projects for months.) And Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci also did some reworking of “28th Amendment,” which they originally sold as a spec script in 1999.

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