Can Tom Cruise use his maverick magic to save Tár from box-office oblivion? | movie

Obviously we all know that something is badly wrong in the world of theatrically exhibited cinema. But no film has illuminated this issue quite like Tár, a film with such seemingly unstoppable critical buzz that Oscar glory seems all but certain, but has barely been watched by anyone at all. So far, around the entire world, fewer people have seen Tár than saw Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in its first two days of release. And Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile wasn’t exactly a heavy success, either.

However, all that might be about to change, because Tár’s director Todd Field has just struck upon a failsafe publicity strategy. That’s right, he’s crediting Tom Cruise with an awful lot of his success.

In a recent New Yorker interview, Field brings up Cruise twice. The first instance comes when he talks about Eyes Wide Shut, in which he scored a small role. According to the interview, Field treated the shoot like a kind of director camp, following Stanley Kubrick around and asking him technical questions. And this caught Tom Cruise’s attention. Cruise took Field out to dinner and told him: “You’re going to make movies.” Field deferred by mentioning a short story that he probably wouldn’t win the rights to, and Cruise replied “You’re just making excuses. Figure it out.” He did, and thus began his journey as a director.

Even better than that, though, Field also revealed that Cruise went out of his way to protect his 2001 film In the Bedroom from the clutches of Harvey Weinstein. The story is this: Miramax bought In the Bedroom and then, as was Weinstein’s wont, went about massacring it in post-production. Upset by Weinstein’s brutality, Field called Cruise. And Cruise provided a systematic, long-game blueprint to save the movie.

“He basically said, ‘This is how you’re going to play it. It’s going to take you six months, and you’ll beat him, but you have to do exactly what I’m going to tell you to do, step by step,’” Field says of Cruise. The plan, in summary, was to let Harvey Weinstein edit the film as much as he wanted, then wait for it to test badly, as it almost definitely would, before reminding him of all the good reviews it had received in its original form. The plan worked, and in the bedroom both turned a profit and received a best picture nomination at the following year’s Oscars.

So, for anyone keeping score, Tom Cruise is the man who persuaded Todd Field to let go of his fear and meet his destiny as a film director. And Tom Cruise is the man who ensured that Todd Field would become a critical darling, rather than yet another nameless director crushed beneath the wheels of Harvey Weinstein’s grotesque egomania. And now, simply by bringing his name into his publicity campaign, Tom Cruise might just be the man who’ll help Todd Field set Tár on the seemingly insurmountable path to making his production budget back.

Not only does this make Tom Cruise sound like both a good guy and a powerful industry ally, it also sets up the dazzling possibility that Cruise simply exists to help Todd Field out of trouble. Perhaps, the next time Todd Field stumbles on the way home from the supermarket and drops fruit all over a busy road, Tom Cruise will rush in out of nowhere and stop all the surrounding traffic from hitting him. Or, perhaps, if Tár somehow doesn’t win any Oscars this year, Tom Cruise will skydive in through the ceiling like Batman and physically change the winner’s name on the envelope with nothing but the power of his mind. Because, as we are all discovering that’s just the kind of guy Tom Cruise is.

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