Conflicted over Cruise

Attracting women to Cruises latest blockbuster may be mission: impossible.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Katie Holmes aside, an article in today’s Wall Street Journal reports that women seem to be getting over their love affair with Tom Cruise. In fact, women may be so turned off by his personal life that they’re losing interest in his movies. (Oh, where to start  Katie’s silent birth, his placenta-eating jokes, his criticism of Brooke Shields, his stumping for Scientology.)

Apparently audience research shows that women — who have been Cruise’s most loyal fans — aren’t planning a Girls Night Out Across America to see next weekend’s release of “Mission: Impossible III.” And Paramount Pictures is wondering whether his antics have attracted unflattering attention, writes the Journals Merissa Marr.

Of course, Cruise’s publicist Paul Bloch insists his client is as studly as ever, given the number of women who still flock to his events and send him mail. And Paramount execs are hoping to blame the lukewarm interest by women on early publicity efforts targeting men. Now they’re hoping to woo back women by playing up the suspense and emotion of the movie. That may be working, since the last round of numbers shows that only 15 percent of women said they definitely wouldn’t see the movie, compared with 20 percent earlier. And the number of women of all ages who definitely want to see the movie rose seven points to about one-third. That’s compared with about one-half for men. (About half of women wanted to see the first two “Mission: Impossible” installments. So it’s not the genre.)



In fact, in 2006, the negative rating of Cruise’s “Q score” (which measures the people who rank a star as one of their favorites) climbed to 31 percent, from an average of 13 percent a few years ago. One expert thinks his attack on Shields’ use of medication to treat postpartum depression didn’t help his cause. “At that moment, he moved from the realm of acceptable eccentricity to something scary and cruel,” Martin Kaplan, director of the entertainment think tank Norman Lear Center, told Marr. “It’s easier to forgive his joking about placenta than what is perceived to be an attack on a vulnerable woman’s real problem.”

And while we’re on the subjects of movies and women, the New York Times’ Sunday Styles section ran a feature claiming that women are attracted to a new genre of slasher movies. So, a recap: We like gore, too. And we also love decent plots and interesting characters. But we’re just not so sure about Tom Cruise.

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at sarah@saraherichards.com.

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