Tom Cruise Wanted To Star In One Of The Biggest Box Office Bombs Ever

Tom Cruise has lobbied hard to star in one of the biggest box office bombs in movie history. I guess he got lucky on this one.

By Doug Norrie | Updated

tom cruise

Tom Cruise is known for being a blockbuster machine. He’s had one of the most prolific Hollywood careers of all time and continues to churn out high-dollar, high-value movies even as he pushes into his sixth decade on this Earth. But sometimes the biggest career wins are the movies and roles that *don’t* end up coming about. And that was definitely the case for Cruise when it came to one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. The Wrap has it that there was a time when Tom Cruise wanted very badly to star in John Carter for Disney, even openly campaigning for the part. It didn’t come to fruition and in this way, Cruise might have been saved some potential embarrassment. 

The Wrap did an extensive look at the making of John Carter, a movie that was at varying stages of development for years both with Disney and, for a time, with Paramount. Back in the early 1990s, the film started to get on a development timeline and Tom Cruise had expressed some interest in starring. But things started to fall apart when it appeared the visual effects weren’t going to pass the muster. It was shelved for almost two decades after that though Paramount did try to get things going in the interim. 

Then, in 2008 Andrew Stanton came on board to helm John Carter and Disney had the rights back to the film. According to The Wrap, Stanton only wanted Taylor Kitsch in the role even though Tom Cruise started to actively campaign for the part. Cruise never actually tested for the part when it was all said and done, but the consensus around those making the film was that he definitely wanted to step into the lead role for this movie. In the end, it didn’t end up happening, Kitsch landed the titular part and the rest is whacky movie history. 

Tom Cruise not snagging the lead in John Carter likely ended up being a blessing in disguise. It’s a bit a chicken or the egg scenario because a flick with Cruise as the star likely performs differently, so we can’t go 1:1 on the results here. But there’s no doubt that the movie ended up as being a cautionary tale in spending a ton of cash on a big-budget film and expecting blockbuster results. Released in 2012 with an estimated budget somewhere in the $350 million range, John Carter struggled in every sense of the word. It was one of the most expensive films ever made and yet at the box office managed to claw back only $284 million. This is a disaster of the highest order for s studio, especially considering it was likely viewed as a tentpole production. Critics weren’t all that kind either with the film sitting at 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

As for Tom Cruise, around this time he had just completed Mission: Impossible III and would go on to star in Valkyrie and Knight & Day so he wasn’t exactly crushing it in decision making. But then in 2010, he came out with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol which worked to reinvigorate that franchise. Next up for the actor are a couple of installments of the Mission: Impossible franchise as well as the release for Top Gun: Maverick