In a surprising announcement, Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner will take the reigns on MGM’s respected, historic United Artists division. This will surely be a developing story to watch unfold. UA was reinvigorated five years ago when October Films co-founder Bingham Ray became president and, through a production deal with folks like Francis Ford Coppola, released such titles as Jeepers Creepers, CQ (SXSW ’03), and Assassination Tango (SXSW ’04). Then, Bingham left, and UA slowly faded away following the Sony purchase of MGM (which sent UA titles such as Capote and Art School Confidential to Sony Pictures Classics). So, the question for the future is, will Cruise and Wagner revamp UA with arthouse titles like the aforementioned? Or something much more commercial? Anne Thompson reports on her blog:
MGM suggests that Cruise and Wagner fall in the tradition of the creative artists who founded UA 85 years ago: Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. UA plans to produce about four films a year for starters, with more to come later on. MGM and its partners (which includes Sony) will fully finance and market and distribute UA films worldwide. The agreement with MGM/UA, which was brokered by Cruise Wagner Productions’ agency CAA and attorney Bert Fields, takes effect immediately.