Tom Cruise: Hollywood's Newest Free Agent
August 23, 2006

It may be Hollywood's biggest divorce ever: the seemingly abrupt end to the 14-year union of Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures.

"Extra" is behind the war of the words between the world's biggest star and studio titan Sumner Redstone, the mogul who had nothing but praise for Tom on 2000's "Mission Impossible II."

"Once we had the director, the cast and Tom Cruise, it was a sure thing," Redstone said at the time.

The showbiz titan was all smiles with his superstar at Tom's "M: I 3" premiere.

How quickly the tides can change. Redstone sent off shockwaves blasting Tom's widely scrutinized public behavior, like his couch jumping episode on "Oprah," as, "Not acceptable to Paramount."

"Extra" got the first reaction on the split from Cruise's camp, as Tom's producing partner broke her silence.

In an interview over the phone, Paula Wagner told us that Redstone's remarks to Tom are, "Disgraceful… and the height of unprofessionalism."

Paula also said, "Negotiations ceased a week-and-a-half ago."

"Extra" spotted Tom and Katie in Beverly Hills over the weekend. However, Wednesday they declined to comment on the studio split.

So what really caused the sudden rift? And has Tom secure a secret deal elsewhere?

"Extra" has confirmed the answer is yes. Paula told us that she and Tom have already lined up $100 million in financing to produce movies on their own.

In addition, Tom's departure will make Brad Pitt the new prince of the Paramount lot. Pitt has his own production company, Plan B, housed at Paramount and will now be the biggest star on the lot.

So what's next for Tom and his billion dollar bank account? Since setting up shop on the Paramount lot in 1992, Cruise has generated $3 billion dollars for the studio.

To put that astronomical amount in perspective, that revenue surpassed the gross domestic product of Fiji. "I guess I don't think about it like that," Cruise told us. "[But] when I hear it from you, it blows my mind."

However, while Tom can cash in on his secured fortune, gone are the days of his $10 million a year development deal and $25 million a movie salary.

But Forbes magazine's Leah Goldman says those figures are minimal compared to the amount of cash Cruise, who topped their Forbes Power 100 list this year, has earned splitting box office dollars with the studio.

"Tom Cruise gets first dollar gross, which means the studios don't have to recover anything before Tom starts to get his money in," Goldman revealed.

So what's next for Cruise and Paramount?

The studio will face a future without their biggest box office draw, while Tom will start shopping himself and his current project elsewhere, including 2007's "The Eye," a thriller co-starring Jessica Alba, and "The Few," a WWII drama directed by Hollywood heavyweight Michael Mann, due in 2008.

"If there's a silver lining, it's a pretty big silver lining," Goldman added. "Because now he can strike any deal with any studio."


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