Steven Spielberg to Tom Cruise: ‘You saved Hollywood’s a–’

In a prime example of game recognizing game, Steven Spielberg was caught on camera telling Tom Cruise that he “saved Hollywood’s ass” with “Top Gun: Maverick,” Cruise’s megahit action movie that put butts in seats. 

In a candid clip from Monday’s Oscar nominees luncheon that went viral on social media, Spielberg – a three-time Oscar nominee this year for “The Fabelmans” – can be seen praising the “Top Gun: Maverick” producer-star for putting the whole industry on his back with his Best Picture-nominated, nearly $1.5 billion-grossing sequel.

“You saved Hollywood’s ass,” Spielberg says in the clip (via Indiewire). “And you might have saved theatrical distribution. Seriously. ‘Maverick’ might have saved the entire theatrical industry.” 

Spielberg is referring to how “Top Gun: Maverick” proved that there’s still a market for non-superhero blockbusters with exclusive theatrical releases. Cruise famously refused to allow “Top Gun: Maverick” to go straight to streaming or even go to streaming while it was still in theaters. His choice was validated when “Maverick” became the second-highest-grossing movie of 2022 and brought older audiences back to the theater in droves for the first time since the start of the pandemic. And when it finally did reach streaming, its proven theatrical success buoyed it to become the most-watched movie on Paramount+. 

In his leaked dressing-down of COVID protocol-violating crew members on the set of “Mission: Impossible 7” at the peak of the pandemic, Cruise said he goes to sleep every night feeling the responsibility of “the future of this f—ing industry.” So it must feel good that his “Minority Report” and “War of the Worlds” director, one of the other most powerful people in Hollywood, has acknowledged that his stress and hard work are paying off. 

Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” are both up for Best Picture at the 95th Academy Awards. Each film is also nominated at the Producers Guild Awards, where both Spielberg and Cruise will likely meet again as nominees.

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