EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise has committed to star for Universal Pictures in Oblivion, the science fiction film that will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who last helmed Tron: Legacy. Production will begin in October. Cruise had been loosely attached to the Radical Publishing graphic novel adaptation when Disney let it go and Universal committed to finance and distribute the $100 million film, which came with a William Monahan script that was being rewritten by Karl Gajdusek. Kosinski hatched the idea for the project and set it to be published by Barry Levine’s graphic novel imprint as a calling card for a movie when Kosinski was busy for so long directing Tron: Legacy, which topped out at $400 million worldwide gross.
Disney acquired the graphic novel in a heated auction last summer, and Universal was one of the studios that also chased it. It takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered uninhabitable. Cruise will play a soldier who’s stuck alone on the planet, repairing the drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien life form. He encounters a beautiful woman who crashes in a craft, and their experience together forces him to question his world view. Disney allowed Kosinski to shop it because it didn’t fit its family-film mold and attempts to rein it in to a PG rating was creatively strangling the project. It will be PG-13.
Cruise has just begun shooting the Adam Shankman-directed Rock of Ages, the adaptation of the Broadway musical for New Line. Cruise plays the decadent rocker Stacee Jaxx, and gets to belt out the Bon Jovi hit Wanted Dead or Alive and duet with Malin Akerman on the Foreigner hit I Want to Know What Love Is. Cruise will follow with Oblivion. Less clear is what happens after that. Cruise had been mentioned as circling Pacific Rim, the Legendary Pictures-hatched monster movie that will be directed by Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro expected to be working with Cruise at Universal this year on At the Mountains of Madness, but the studio put the brakes on that adaptation of the HP Lovecraft horror tale because the film has its R-rating. While del Toro and Cruise could wind up making Pacific Rim at year’s end, the actor’s participation in that one isn’t certain, though they are talking. CAA-repped Cruise’s next film is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the Brad Bird-directed fourth installment of the Paramount Pictures series that opens Dec. 16. Cruise is also in the center of a script pitch by Crazy, Stupid, Love scribe Dan Fogelman that sold to Warner Bros last month in a bidding battle. Cruise will play a politician whose pristine reputation is shattered when he gets caught having an affair. With his reputation in tatters, the pol retreats to his hometown to lick his wounds, repair relationships and confront his past. Talk about a timely premise.