Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford… Hollywood trusts its stars. But how many do you have left? | icon

The first time we saw Tom Cruise fly an F-18 fighter on the big screen was 36 years ago. Almost three decades have passed since doctors Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) discovered the charms –and dangers– of Jurassic Parkand more than four leads Jamie Lee Curtis fleeing from the threat of Michael Myers in the saga Halloween. Also Ewan McGregor draws the lightsaber after 20 years (between the phantom menace and the current series Obi Wan), Patrick Stewart captains the business (in the recent picard, after the eighties Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Tobey Maguire regains his spider sense (in Spider-Man: No Way Home, 19 years after his Spider-Man). It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that next summer Harrison Ford and Michael Keaton try to conquer the public again by dusting off the costumes of Indiana Jones and Batman, respectively. Cruise will also not miss the appointment with the seventh installment of Mission Impossible and the stripes, more than deserved, of championing the return of classic Hollywood stars. Just when the industry needed it most.

With more than 700 million euros raised worldwide –and counting–, Top Gun: Maverick It has not only become the most successful film in Tom Cruise’s four-decade career, but a rare warn that has turned the foundations of the mecca of cinema upside down. In an industry dominated by superhero franchises and fantasy sagas, driven by the push of the streaming and the impact of a pandemic whose effect continues to weigh down the sale of seats, the global success of this sequel vindicates a way of making movies, and promoting them, that seemed destined for extinction.

rated from Unicorn, he is the only one of the big names who continues to refuse to star in a film destined to be released first on digital platforms. Nor has he succumbed to the rise of the series or Marvel’s millionaire checks, devoting his efforts to shooting increasingly risky action scenes and traveling the world (from Mexico to Japan passing through Cannes or an aircraft carrier in California) to promote, with the enthusiasm of a newcomer, his latest release. “Eat, sleep, and dream this job,” a former Paramount production manager said of him.

Tom Cruise at the Japan premiere of the movie Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise at the Japan premiere of the movie Top Gun: MaverickKen Ishii (Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

“The case of Tom Cruise is special because he is someone who is very popular with the media, who likes him and whose career is highly valued by the public. He is very involved both in the filming and in the promotion and all of that makes an impression on the viewer, ”confirms Fernando Lobo, promoter of the Ambassador Cinemas. At the head of one of the youngest theaters in Madrid, the exhibitor assures that the success of films such as Top Gun: Maverick depends on the recovery of the entire film industry. “For humble cinemas to work first, the big Hollywood movies have to do it, which move millions of people en masse. Once they get the taste of the room again, they will bet on other cinematographic alternatives. The veteran public in Spain continues to be the most reluctant to return”. Precisely one of the greatest milestones of the film about US Navy aviators is the capture of viewers over 35 years of age at its premiere (up to 55% of the total), a demographic stratum still elusive to return to occupy their seat after the pandemic.

Since its premiere at the end of May, the only film capable of ending Cruise’s hegemony at the top of the box office has been Jurassic World: Dominion. The umpteenth installment of the saga also adds to the nostalgic factor: it recovers the original leading trio as flashy secondary characters almost 30 years after the premiere. The formula seems to have worked for him. It was the best opening weekend for a non-superhero movie since the pandemic shut down theaters around the world. “Stars breathe new life into familiar franchises, giving audiences a familiar and comforting presence,” Gregg Goldstein, a journalist for magazines like Varietywhich considers that returns like Sam Neill’s to Jurassic World “It allows different generations of the same family to watch the sequel together.”

The attempt to replicate a deja vu among viewers is a relentless target among studios. Disney lined its pockets with the return of Luke, Leia and Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). And in recent months we have witnessed the resurrection of the original cast of legendary franchises such as Ghostbusters, Matrix, Scream either Jackass. Sandra Bullock, a subgenre in itself, has made a triumphant return this year to the adventure comedy in The lost City. This week we have seen a dramatic split from toy story with the prequel Lightyearthe same path that Universal will follow in a few weeks with Minions: The Origin of Gru.

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star in 'The Lost City'.
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star in ‘The Lost City’.

Lack of ideas? Display of power in the face of the onslaught of streaming? For film critic Tim Grierson, what motivates this trend is Hollywood’s tireless commitment to perpetuate its successful franchises. “People want to see actors reprise their roles, even if they are older,” he argues. In his opinion, the characters weigh more than the actors themselves, with Tom Cruise and Sandra Bullock as honorable exceptions to the rule: “They come from a time when the industry still cared for its stars above brands . People go to movies for their love of them, but often the franchise itself is more important than who stars in it. They are an anomaly, ”he adds to this medium.

The impact of Top Gun: Maverick resulted in the publication of dozens of articles, and even surveys, that shared the same question: “Is Tom Cruise the last great movie star?” The actor’s resume in recent decades, despite his controversial affiliation with the Church of Scientology, speaks for itself, but also denotes a possible lack of generational change. Names like Tom Holland, Zendaya, Dwayne Johnson, Margot Robbie or Robert Pattinson have starred in undeniable successes in recent years, but most have done so relying on million-dollar franchises and not on original stories boosted by the magnetism of their protagonists. The actor who wears the superhero cape before a green screen seems to matter little and imagining the current crop in 36 years reaping historical blockbusters like Cruise seems utopian.

Goldstein maintains that, with the current cultural context, there is no other way out for new talent: “Younger actors have to join these projects to be famous.” Grierson agrees – “only in this way will they be giants” – and puts as proof the recent example of Rachel Zegler or Ariana DeBose, two revelation actresses of the remake of West Side Story who have signed for The Hunger Games Y Kraven the Hunter (Marvel), respectively. Fernando Lobo, for his part, focuses on the change in the media paradigm experienced by the stars of tomorrow: “Now, with performers like Tom Holland or Zendaya, you can check what they do at all times thanks to their social networks. Before, either you saw them in the cinema or you didn’t. That halo of mystery has disappeared.

Cruise, subscribed to the most absolute opacity regarding his life outside the sets, is also the exception in this field and limits his Instagram account to marketing more rigorous. We only know about him that he can climb the wing of an airplane, pilot a fighter jet or hang from a prominent skyscraper; anything to entertain us when the lights go out.

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