Once upon a time, Tom Cruise worked with auteur filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, Cameron Crowe, and Michael Mann, pretty regularly, but somewhere in the 2000s he shifted his focus to action blockbusters, and it’s been a long time since he’s made a film that has that auteurist shine. But that’s changing, as the first project to come out of his new deal with Warner Bros. Discovery is a film from Alejandro Iñárritu, which will mark the director’s first English-language film since The Revenant.


I am BEGGING someone, ANYONE, to ask Cruise and Iñárritu how they justify working with a studio that is blatantly decimating cinema in front of us (and ask Iñárritu how he squares his passion for theaters with depriving theaters of films). Not everyone has a choice of who they work with, I get that, and some people are working on projects that were fostered under a previous Warners regime, like Denis Villeneuve and Dune, but Iñárritu is CHOOSING to take his project to David Zaslav’s Warner Brothers, and I am going to need filmmakers of his caliber to explain themselves. Tom Cruise, too. He made a “strategic partnership” with Warner Bros. Discovery AFTER we learned WBD intended to destroy Coyote vs. Acme, never mind doing it YEARS after Batgirl and Scoob! 2 were similarly destroyed. How can you position yourself as the savior of cinema, and willingly work for people who aren’t interested in saving cinema?


I know it’s not realistic, entertainment reporters could never risk their access to a star like Cruise, or a filmmaker like Iñárritu, but this pressure needs to come from somewhere. Zaslav and WBD won’t stop dumping films—Stephen King is publicly questioning the fate of Salem’s Lot, an adaptation of his novel starring Lewis Pullman—until someone MAKES them. Ideally, that would be a regulatory body investigating the actual legality of torching completed films for a tax break, but until the US government gets its ass in gear—so maybe never—it would move the needle for the talent that can afford to speak up, to speak up.


There are all these interview gimmicks now, Hot Ones and Chicken Shop Date and whatnot. They’re cute. They’re buzzy, they’re viral, celebrities enjoy them. I want to be the opposite of that. Give me a beehive, horn-rimmed glasses, an acid burn nail job, and let me shove a microphone in the most powerful celebrities’ faces and demand to know what they think of destroying completed films. I will only ever ask this one question while holding a weirdly giant microphone—because the tiny mic trend is over—and we’ll call it “Uncomfortable Question with Gracie Devine”. 


Seriously, though, this kind of sh-t is just cover for Zaz and his anti-art stewardship of Warner Brothers. People with power who choose to provide this shield should have to answer for it, especially the ones who make preserving cinema their whole personality. They think it won’t happen to them, but WBD took Bong Joon-ho’s Mickey 17 starring Robert Pattinson off the schedule, and just this week slapped it with a January 31, 2025 release date. They’re passing it off as a Lunar New Year thing—because it’s a “major movie going event” in China—and we probably should be relieved they’re committed to releasing it all, but dumping Bong’s Parasite follow up in JANUARY? For everyone else that’s a death month at the box office, and frankly, the Chinese market hasn’t been as friendly to foreign films over the last several years, so it’s not a sure thing there, either. 

I’m just assuming they nearly sh-tcanned this movie, too, until someone told them the absolute sh-t storm people like Tom Cruise would rain down on them if they did. Inevitably, though, if no one stops them, they will tank a film from a significant filmmaker. They seem happy to keep throwing money at Joker 2, but eventually they’ll pull the plug on some auteur’s dream project. So far, the prevailing attitude seems to be “it sucks but what are you going to do?” Not work with them. That’s what you can do. Don’t lend David Zaslav credibility by setting up your prestige projects at his studio. If you can afford to pass on WBD, pass.