By Mack Chico
As Tom Cruise goes about writing the next chapter in his career, he’s developing an interest in comic book movies.
Together with Sam Raimi, he is setting up “Sleeper” at Warner Bros. Cruise is loosely attached to star in the adaptation of the DC Comics/Wildstorm comic that Raimi would produce with his Star Road Entertainment partner Josh Donen.
Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips, “Sleeper,” which ran from 2003-05, centers on an operative whose fusion with an alien artifact makes him impervious to pain and allows him to pass it on to others through skin contact. He is placed undercover in a villainous organization by an intelligence agency and falls for a member of the group, named Miss Misery.
Although he remains a co-owner of United Artists — from which his longtime producing partner Paula Wagner resigned last week — he’s not tied exclusively to that company. It now looks as if his next acting gig will be the Spyglass thriller “Tourist,” as if to counter the more cerebral role he played in the UA boxoffice failure “Lions for Lambs” and the upcoming UA WWII period pic “Valkyrie,” in which he plays the anti-Nazi Claus van Stauffenberg.
“Sleeper” is the third project that Cruise has become associated with over the past two weeks –all three separate from his commitments at UA. In addition to “Tourist,” the actor has expressed interest in the Working Title-Universal comedy “Food Fight.”
Also apart from UA, the actor picked up some good notices last week for his uncharacteristic turn as a bald film mogul in DreamWorks-Paramount’s “Tropic Thunder.”
Even if Cruise opts not to do “Sleeper,” his interest in the project is propelling it forward, despite complicated rights issues that must be sorted out. Raimi and Donen have long been fans of the book, and the project could have found homes at Sony and Regency if those issues hadn’t been so complex.
“Sleeper” takes place in the same publishing universe as other Wildstorm books, and integrally featured characters from the company’s flagship title “WildC.A.T.s” as well as characters from another book, “Gen 13.”
Both “WildC.A.T.s” and “Gen 13” had been set up at different places around town and some of those deals were made before DC bought the imprint in 1999.
Warners, now involved in a legal wrangle with Fox over the rights to “Watchmen,” appears determined to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s in its contracts for “Sleeper.”
The project is being eyed not only as a starring vehicle for Cruise but also as a possible franchise for the studio.
Matt Reilly is overseeing the project for Warners while Russell Hollander shepherds for Star Road. Gregory Noveck oversees for DC. No writer is attached.
“Sleeper” sees Raimi and Donen continuing their company’s superhero, which began when they recently set up the superhero story “The Transplants” at Disney.