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Hollywood Insider Says Quiet Part Out Loud

Industry veteran praises Tom Cruise as the exception to new Hollywood rule

Few modern filmmakers grasp Hollywood better than Joe Russo.

He co-directed multiple Marvel movies with brother Anthony, including the final “Avengers” films that capped the MCU’s first three phases.

“Avengers: Endgame” earned nearly $2.8 billion globally.

'Avengers: Endgame' dominates worldwide box office

Russo also straddles the line between the theatrical and streaming worlds, directing and producing big titles for Netflix like “The Gray Man” and “Extraction.”

So when he speaks, people should listen.

Russo shared his thoughts on streaming, Hollywood 101 and more during an appearance at the Sands Film Festival. He spoke bluntly, acknowledging the precarious situation the theatrical model still finds itself in despite a hearty start to 2023.

He cited FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out – as being a critical distinction between theatrical releases and streaming titles today. That matters even more as films make the leap from theaters to VOD (Video on Demand) platforms.

Netflix, he cautioned, has no loyalty to theaters and will only put its product in them to appease select directors.

It’s what his colleague said during the festival, though, that should matter most to the industry moving forward.

Russo was joined by Cinetic Media founder John Sloss, who brings decades of experience to the panel including extensive producing credits (“Green Book,” “Boyhood”).

The Movie Star Era, according to Sloss, is over. And that’s been a boon to a film genre hardly known for its box office prowess.

Sloss added that streamers are bolstering the distribution of docs, but the growing popularity is also an inadvertent result of a decrease in the draw of classically defined movie stars.

“We’re in a post-movie star era except for maybe Tom Cruise,” he said, explaining that few stars are able to draw people to the theatre.

Cruise, who rallied audiences back to theaters last year with “Top Gun: Maverick,” is often cited as the Last Movie Star. And for good reason. He’s apolitical, driven to produce and promote movies that connect with the average movie goer and keenly aware of his brand.

Tom Cruise, Old-School Movie Star.

He’s also thankful to his fans, to a fault, praising their patronage in sometimes outrageous ways.

Most stars don’t follow that blueprint.

They embrace divisive political narratives, bounce between genres and overshare on social media and elsewhere.

That means movies that gather a gaggle of A-list names can belly flop at the box office like “Babylon” and “Amsterdam” did last year.

The “stars” today are mostly IPs (Intellectual Properties) that can be leverage for franchises, shared universes and more. Think the MCU, the Transformers toys, Barbie dolls, etc. etc.

Margot Robbie may score big with the upcoming “Barbie” movie this summer, but she couldn’t draw a crowd for either “Babylon” or “Amsterdam.”

It’s the new normal, and Hollywood studios better start paying attention to it rather than writing gargantuan checks to stars who can’t put fannies in the seats.


  1. I guess you’ve all forgotten how Cruise blew “up on two crew members on the set of the seventh Mission: Impossible, tearing into them with an epic, profanity-strewn tirade” over not masking and not social distancing. This was just before filming a scene where he and his costars were ….. not masked or social distancing. Tom Cruise is a typical Hollywood type and a “star” in the typical fan mold. When will people stop glorifying actors?

    1. You do know that masks and social distancing was a joke and more lives were lost by the stupidity of the CDC and democrat run states. If the people in the industry don’t like him, they don’t have to work for him. As long as he is paying the bills you do it his way. I have worked a lot of jobs over the years and sometimes you just have to go along for the ride.

  2. Almost exclusively watching pre-year-2000 movies. Every time I wander into “New Hollywood” I am let down – usually not making it past the 30-minute-mark before tuning out (usually where the bait-and-switch, embedded-woke-messaging takes place).
    It’s so striking how much better movies from the 90’s, 80’s, and 70’s are in comparison.
    Hollywood is dead. (Intrigued by Wahlberg’s move to Las Vegas and discussions about starting a new studio there. Monitoring…)

      1. Letting blacks run the narrative turns people off. I want white actors not black. Same as the blacks call for black movies.

  3. It’s telling that attendance at houses of worship has dipped at a similar rate as attendance at theaters. COVID insanity can claim responsibility for a lot of that, along with the political milieu that engendered it. Advancements in tech certainly are a factor — technology appears to be taking us into greater isolation and/or away from real-wold physical human interactions that are central to churchgoing and moviegoing. The fear of missing out is, I suppose, the inverse of the joy of partaking: Perhaps religious institutions and the film industry need to do a better job of elevating those ideas and ideals that make them what they are and not spend so much energy on messaging that they perceive to be most safe or inclusive or politically correct.

  4. I believe Tom Cruise could be the last Movie Star as he values his fans and plays to them. I do like some others but it seems that Hollywood has gone WOKE and that has turned me OFF. So far Cruise’s films have not been that way. I have watched some International Films but generally do not care for them due to dubbing. It seemed like since COVID and Biden election that Hollywood has gone Woke. Go Woke, Go Broke.

    1. Since Biden and COVID? Dude, hollyweird has been woke for decades. When was the last time a blockbuster movie won an oscar? It’s always movies with a message or some “special” actor that the voters want to give a lift to. Almost everything new is unwatchable, which is why I have no problem watching the older great movies over and over and over.

  5. I’ve been watching a lot of indie and foreign films lately, most with actors I’ve never heard of. I find them much more entertaining than the big studio stuff with A-listers because the emphasis is more on story than cast. A writer-director crafts the story the way he wants it without all the product placement and box-checking and tells the story that he wants to tell it.

    1. Do you have any examples that you care to promote? Any place in particular you like to watch these films? I’d like to check some out

      1. You have to do some digging, but there’s a website called that announces theatrical and home-video release dates of a lot of these kinds of movies. I’ve found a lot of hidden gems on this site.

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