Is Valkyrie Dead? Is United Artists Dead ? Is Tom Cruise Dead?


That's okay. Nobody's perfect!
Actually I had not heard anything about this film until I read this in the NY Times:

April 23, 2008

The Nazi Plot That’s Haunting Tom Cruise and United Artists


LOS ANGELES — When United Artists said this month that it would again delay the release of “Valkyrie,” in which Tom Cruise plays a German officer who tries to kill Hitler, the Web went into obituary mode.

One Hollywood Internet site,, flatly declared, “Valkyrie is dead.” Another,, said that the revival of United Artists had effectively died with it.

Meanwhile, Roger Friedman, a widely read Web reporter with a column on, had some career advice for Mr. Cruise: “He needs another ‘Jerry Maguire’-like romantic comedy, and he needs it now.”

The death notices are remarkable in that United Artists, in its current version, was financed just eight months ago. And there is no way to be certain about “Valkyrie” until the film, first set for release in June, then October, and now Feb. 13, 2009, finally opens.

In the interim Mr. Cruise, his partners at United Artists and the “Valkyrie” filmmakers are bracing for what will likely be a nine-month fight to prove their critics wrong. “We will not be daunted,” Paula Wagner, chief executive of United Artists, said last week.

During a 90-minute interview at the company’s headquarters in a Century City office tower, Ms. Wagner said she and her fellow executives were intent on overcoming negative reactions that she saw as rooted in ignorance of the process of building movie production companies.

“Anybody trying to dismiss us or write us off doesn’t understand the business,” Ms. Wagner said. She added: “Nothing is going to stop us. We are determined to make this work.”

Still, United Artists’ future will depend on reversing a growing perception — fed by an Internet culture that publicizes notions once confined to lunchtime gossipfests — that the studio took a wrong turn shortly after Ms. Wagner joined Mr. Cruise, her longtime producing partner, in agreeing a year and a half ago to reboot it as their own venture with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which had previously owned the company outright.

Mr. Cruise declined through a spokesman to be interviewed for this article. In a statement Harry E. Sloan, MGM’s chief executive, said he remained convinced of United Artists’ “promise and potential,” and looked forward to marketing and distributing its movies. The statement made no specific mention of “Valkyrie.”

In August the retooled United Artists received $500 million in backing through Merrill Lynch. It quickly released “Lions for Lambs,” a poorly received drama that was directed by Robert Redford and featured Mr. Cruise with Mr. Redford and Meryl Streep. As that film took a drubbing from critics and audiences alike, United Artists bet again on Mr. Cruise with “Valkyrie,” which is written by Christopher McQuarrie (with Nathan Alexander), and is being directed by Bryan Singer; both men worked on “X-Men” and “The Usual Suspects.”

Ms. Wagner declined to discuss the film’s cost, which has been reported at about $100 million. She also declined to discuss the possible loss from “Lions for Lambs,” which reported estimates have put as high as $50 million. The film is still playing abroad, where it has performed far better than in the United States.

But the company, she said, soon expects to move ahead with two or three films, including a lower-budget concept comedy that will feature actors other than Mr. Cruise. That will, perhaps, draw some of the limelight from a business partner who, at the moment, appears to be both an asset and a liability.

One of a half-dozen independent film companies that received significant financial backing between August 2006 and the following summer, United Artists has been deliberate in its approach, leaving plenty of time for outsiders to speculate.

By contrast, Overture Films, one of the other companies, expects to line up as many as 10 pictures by the end of this year. “If you’re going to be a distributor, you need volume in the marketplace,” Chris McGurk, Overture’s chief executive, said of its pace. To date, it has released “Mad Money,” “Sleepwalking” and “The Visitor,” none of which have been major hits.

Ms. Wagner noted that DreamWorks SKG, one of the longer-lived start-ups in recent memory, took nearly three years to release its first film after it was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. So did her own production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions, whose first film, “Mission: Impossible,” was released in 1996.

That Mr. Cruise became involved with “Valkyrie” was initially seen as an unexpected boost for United Artists: Mr. Singer recruited him only after Ms. Wagner had already signed onto the movie.

But a series of mishaps soon tainted the project. And that was particularly bad news for a company that will release nothing else before “Valkyrie” opens, and for a star whose main screen presence until then will be a much-talked-about cameo as a manic movie producer in the raunch comedy “Tropic Thunder.”

German authorities for a time refused permission to shoot “Valkyrie” in the Bendler Block in Berlin, where some of the story’s crucial moments occurred in real life. After a considerable commotion, permission was granted.

Then some of the film was damaged at the lab, requiring a brief reshoot that helped to feed the notion the movie was in trouble. That impression was further reinforced by the fact that some scenes remain to be filmed, though they were always meant to be finished after the rest of the production. Mr. Singer is expected to shoot a desert sequence in the next two months, possibly in the United States.

According to company executives, the latest date change was intended to move “Valkyrie” from an early fall schedule that has become increasingly crowded with Academy Award prospects — last year “In the Valley of Elah” and “Eastern Promises” were among the well-reviewed films that did poorly in the period — to a more audience-friendly date on the long Presidents’ Day weekend.

But the rescheduling spurred still more talk, some of it far-fetched. One report, on an Asian news wire, said that Mr. Cruise needed time with a dialect coach to refine his German accent. (Never mind that he speaks plain English throughout.)

Actually, Mr. Friedman, the Fox columnist, cited Mr. Cruise’s “hard California accent” among the points that persuaded him to tag “Valkyrie” as “one of the worst ideas for a film ever.”

Speaking by telephone last week, Mr. Friedman said much of the evidence he needed for that judgment was apparent in a trailer that has been available on the Web for weeks (

“There’s Tom with that big grin,” said Mr. Friedman, who also took exception to the star’s eye patch, which he wears as Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg.

Occasionally such certitude can shatter a movie’s release. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola, was derided in Hollywood as “Bonfire of the Vampires” before it opened, referring to the notorious bomb “Bonfire of the Vanities.” But “Dracula” did spectacular opening-weekend business and took in a solid $83 million at the box office in 1992.

Even “Titanic,” which ultimately took in $601 million at the domestic box office, was dogged by bad buzz while the audience flocked to it. “As ‘Titanic’ Hits No. 1, Perils Lurk in Its Future,” ran a 1997 headline in The New York Times.

Speaking by telephone on Friday, Mr. Singer said he had experienced something similar when making “X-Men.” Fans of the comic book, he recalled, obtained a picture of a stuntman in an awkwardly rigged Wolverine costume and concluded that Mr. Singer had bungled the film.

“Speculation is part of the excitement of the movie business,” Mr. Singer suggested. As for “Valkyrie,” he added: “People will be surprised. It isn’t going to be what people expect.”

Any thoughts on this? Personally I think Tom's box office appeal is fast diminishing.

Registered User
What a witch haunting...

Hattori_Hanzo's Avatar
Registered User
this was supposed to be his next huge hit. With all the hype I think it'll be disappointing to not see this make it to the big screen.

I am also reading that he shows his absolute best in Tropic Thunder coming out later this year
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