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IPFS News Link • Hollywood-Entertainment Industry

Warner Bros. Spends Big: 'Joker 2' Budget Hits $200 Million, Lady Gaga's $12 Million Pay

•, By Tatiana Siegel

In January, Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group chiefs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy jetted to London to connect with the new crown jewel of the studio, Tom Cruise. The three met to identify a film that would kick off their nonexclusive "strategic partnership." Sources say a raft of possibilities were discussed, including an "Edge of Tomorrow" follow-up and Quentin Tarantino's "The Movie Critic," which currently isn't set up with a distributor and has Warner Bros., like every major studio, salivating.

At 61, Cruise remains the king of studio tentpoles, a roost solidified by 2022's "Top Gun: Maverick," which took in $1.5 billion worldwide. But Cruise wants more than action stardom — he'd like to return to working with auteurs like Paul Thomas Anderson. In fact, he hasn't earned an Oscar nomination for acting since he appeared in Anderson's 1999 drama "Magnolia." Earlier in his career, Cruise benefited from being directed by heavyweights like Spielberg, Scorsese and Kubrick, but then he he moved into a "Mission: Impossible"-oriented phase where he routinely defies the laws of time and gravity.

In Tarantino, Cruise could find the rare auteur who marries box office performance and awards-season heat. However, securing the project won't come cheap. The biggest roadblock for De Luca and Abdy is potentially Sony. Sources say Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Tom Rothman has the edge, having distributed Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood."

Still, a Cruise-Tarantino alliance at Warners would align with the De Luca-Abdy modus operandi: Lure A-list directors who can attract bona fide stars — and spend wildly. Since taking over the studio in July 2022, De Luca and Abdy have struck some pricey deals: There's Anderson's next movie, which will feature Leonardo DiCaprio (earning $20 million plus), and a Ryan Coogler-Michael B. Jordan vampire film that has Warners ceding the copyright to Coogler after 25 years. The latter move was a head-scratcher considering that Tarantino is the only other director to secure an eventual copyright from a major studio (with "Once Upon a Time") and will surely be looking to replicate that with "Movie Critic." But sources who have done recent business with the studio say the mandate to spare no expense to land big talent comes via Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.