Tom Cruise went overboard praising Universal execs at the premiere for Joseph Kosinski’s “Oblivion” Wednesday night at Hollywood and Highland. “I’ve been doing this a few years now,” he told the Dolby Theater crowd. “Making films today, it takes a village, as artists it’s about problem solving.”
You need the studio behind you, is what he meant: They need Universal to do a good job selling this movie, which started to open April 10 around the world.
An unbranded movie is a risk for the studios–they hate going into this territory. But Universal picked this one up in turnaround from Disney, where video-game-pioneer-turned-filmmaker Kosinski owed them a post-“Tron: Legacy” picture.
“Oblivion,” which he has been developing from his own graphic novel for eight years, didn’t quite belong under the Disney label. While Kosinski still delivered a PG-13 film to Universal, this smart and twisty dystopian movie starring Cruise as maverick astronaut Jack Harper on a drone-fixing mission on post-apocalyptic planet earth has an adult edge–and that’s the audience segment most likely to appreciate the movie.
It’s a relief to see something that comes out of a filmmaker’s own head–even if it’s derivative as hell (references abound, from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Coma,” and “Planet of the Apes” to “Total Recall,” “The English Patient” and “Wall-E”).
Speaking of Pixar, uncredited screenwriter Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3”) was brought in, as he was on “Tron,” to do a script polish, and helped devise the opening narration and romantic arc of the story. Kosinski is a gifted visual filmmaker with a strong design aesthetic who managed to deliver this gleaming digital vision shot by “Life of Pi” Oscar-winner Claudio Miranda for only $125 million.