MGM Puts Cruise In Charge of New United Artists
Cruise and Wagner will have day-to-day control over rebirthed studio
It was announced on Thursday (Nov. 2) that MGM is bringing the United Artists banner back as the company's operating partner. Cruise and Wagner will have control over the company's production slate, from development to production, complete with greenlighting abilities (some restrictions apply). Wagner will be the new CEO for United Artists and will oversee day-to-day operations along with Cruise, who is also expected to start in UA films.
"Partnering with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, we have the ideal creative foundation from which to reintroduce the United Artists brand," says MGM CEO Harry Sloan in a statement. "Tom and Paula are the modern versions of the iconic founders of United Artists -- Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith -- and our partnership with them reaffirms our commitment to providing creative talent with a comfortable home at United Artists and a dedicated distribution partner in MGM. United Artists is once again the haven for independent filmmakers and a vital resource in developing quality filmed entertainment consistent with MGM's modern studio model."
The plan is to have the new UA produce four films per year with marketing and distribution to be handled by MGM. That output could increase in subsequent years.
Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin and Griffith, among the industry's earliest creative titans, incorporated UA in 1919 as a studio haven for artists. Over the year, the company was the home for film franchises like the Rocky, Pink Panther and James Bond franchises. United Artists was legendarily bankrupted by Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" and stumbled through the '80s and '90s (Cruise starred in "Rain Man," the highlight of the company's lean years). UA was somewhat rebranded as a boutique production company in recent years, with credits including "Bowling for Columbine," "Pieces of April" and "Art School Confidential."
The plan is to return United Artists to its roots with Cruise and Wagner at the forefront.
"Paula and I are very respectful of the rich history and tradition of United Artists, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to that legacy by providing a wide range of releases that appeal to all audiences," Cruise says. "It's our desire to create an environment where filmmakers can thrive and see their visions realized."
This is an unexpected and swift return to power for Cruise and Wagner, whose long-standing producing deal with Paramount was ended earlier this summer amidst extensive name-calling.