Movie fans on 'Knight and Day': Actually, we blame Tom Cruise
As you might have noticed from my story the other day about what went wrong with 20th Century Fox's attempt to sell "Knight and Day," I didn't put any serious share of the blame on Tom Cruise.
After all, the film's star had done a perfectly respectable job of opening his last major film, "Valkyrie," a period suspense drama about German officers plotting to kill Hitler, which seemed a much harder genre to sell than a romantic action thriller. Fox marketing guru Tony Sella didn't try to throw Cruise under the bus either, forthrightly saying, "Don't blame Tom Cruise. Blame me."
For me, the biggest problem with "Knight and Day" revolved around the fact that no matter what kind of trailers and TV spots Fox cut for the film, audiences simply never understood what the movie was about. The more Fox marketers tried to fix the problem, the more people scratched their heads and said -- Now, I really have no idea what the movie is about. Not that most studios seem to have figured this out yet, but having enough screenwriters working on a film to field a baseball team often will result in a final product that creates mass confusion in moviegoers' brains.
But judging from my e-mail and blog comments, the film's problems weren't so complicated at all. They began and ended with Tom Cruise. In fact, the mail is running about 50-1 against Cruise, whose image with moviegoers -- especially women -- has taken a serious hit, thanks to a combination of strange public behavior, intimate ties with Scientology and botched efforts to repair his damaged boy-next-door image.
It's a funny thing how some actors can be total wing nuts -- starting with Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke -- but that never seems to amount to a hill of beans, while everyone comes down on Cruise like a ton of bricks, perhaps because Downey and Rourke have an obvious deep-seated vulnerability that Cruise either doesn't have or isn't willing to show.
At any rate, the fans (or former fans, to be exact) have spoken, succinctly and often quite eloquently. Here are a few excerpts from their thoughts on the Cruise Factor:
Robin Simmons: Sadly, never once was I able to forget Tom Cruise the public crazy person and suspend disbelief long enough to buy his screen character.
Di Landau: I think many of us are very "over" Tom Cruise, if in fact, we were ever into him (not me btw).
And it's not just Oprah's coach (I could care less). Perhaps it's multiple marriages, a narcissistic personality and the fact that a million dollar smile goes just so far, when there's minimal substance beneath? Many of us vote with our dollars, and I consciously vote not to support that personality (because I'm not even sure there is a person there). Get me a real actor - who doesn't feed off of People/US magazine and calculated manipulation of the media and therefore the public - and I'll line up for to a movie any time.
Dale Launer: Tom Cruise has destroyed his brand. Has he made a good action film in years? No. So audience is not responding to Knight & Day because they've felt let down by Cruise's most recent efforts, specifically Mission Impossible crud he's been spewing onto the public. Tom Cruise in an action movie = another overproduced, underwritten, ridiculous action movie. That's what the MI movies did.
Charles L. Freeman: I don't care what Fox's tracking told them: Tom Cruise is box-office poison at this point in his career because ever since he jumped on Oprah's couch and went off on Matt Lauer, it's been almost impossible to separate Cruise the actor from Cruise the person.
Chesa: Tony Sella, it's not your fault. I'm over forty and I find Tom Cruise repulsive. About the only character that he has played in the last twenty years that I liked was the one in "Tropic Thunder" where he was barely recognizable. His grating personality is okay in small doses. But when he's carrying a whole film, UGH.
Danielle: Spin it every which way, but Tom Cruise and Diaz are has-beens no one will pay to watch-hence the reason for this latest stink bomb. Cruise in particular is just plain bizarre and women in particular find him repulsive and ridiculous. And let's face it, they're not particularly good at their craft.
Nicoleincos: Honestly, I saw the ad for the movie and it didn't look bad. However, I don't like Tom Cruise and won't pay one red cent to see another one of his films. When I was sitting in a rowdy theater on the opening night of SATC 2, the audience fell SILENT when Tom Cruise came on the screen. I would have watched this film if it had starred, say, Ralph Macchio or Keanu Reeves. Anyone but Tom Cruise.
MovieNut: I am 50+ and see a couple of movies a week. If Diaz alone or Diaz and someone else had been in the film, I may have seen it. Two reasons I did not: "Tom" and "Cruise".
Photo: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in a scene from "Knight and Day." Credit: Frank Masi / 20th Century Fox