‘Risky Business’: How It Nearly Ended Tom Cruise’s Career and Sent Him Home

Tom Cruise possesses the Midas touch. However, that was not always the case, as he encountered struggles, akin to any up-and-coming actor, while endeavoring to pave his pathway to success. The renowned American movie star of our generation owes his burgeoning career to the 1982 teen sex comedy ‘Risky Business,’ where he starred alongside Rebecca De Mornay.

Serving as Tom Cruise’s inaugural venture as a leading man, ‘Risky Business’ is nostalgically recalled for its buttoned-down rendition of ‘Old Time And Rock And Roll.’ This particular moment holds a special place in the 61-year-old actor’s heart. Yet, the movie that effectively launched him onto the cinematic map almost remained a fleeting prospect. The film’s denouement emerged as a point of contention, teetering on the brink of derailing the trajectory of the then-young actor’s career.

Before securing the lead role in ‘Risky Business,’ Tom Cruise had only amassed a filmography of four works. In the movie, he portrayed the academically gifted and ambitious high school student, Joel Goodsen. Eventually, Joel attains a romantic connection and secures a place at Princeton University. Moreover, he successfully recovers his mother’s cherished heirlooms, concluding the story on a triumphant note.

However, this outcome was far from certain. Upon the completion of filming and the subsequent presentation to a test audience, a surge of disapproval was directed towards the ending. Paul Brickman, the writer-director of ‘Risky Business,’ had penned an ending in which Joel did not win the affections of the girl or gain acceptance to his coveted educational institution. Additionally, he inadvertently shatters his mother’s prized Steuben glass egg.

Paul Brickman, resolute in his vision, initially held his ground. Yet, in a pragmatic twist, he found himself rewriting and subsequently re-shooting the conclusion. Ultimately, the film managed to elicit favorable responses from the test audience. Upon its release, the movie reeled in a box office revenue of $61 million. This marked the world’s inaugural encounter with Tom Cruise, who would go on to shape the future of cinema.

Tom Cruise’s Influence on Box Office Collections

Since ‘Risky Business,’ Tom Cruise has evolved into a reliable and consistent box office draw. Earning the distinction of being one of the highest-grossing movie stars of all time, his cinematic endeavors have collectively amassed a staggering sum of over $11 billion. Notably, a substantial portion of this financial triumph emanates from the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise. This series, contributing a substantial $4.02 billion to his cumulative box office earnings, stands as the 18th highest-grossing film franchise globally.

In the previous year, the release of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ marked a pinnacle in Tom Cruise’s cinematic journey, emerging as the highest-grossing film of his career. This movie achieved a global box office revenue of $1.496 billion, serving as a beacon of hope that drew audiences back to theaters post the era of COVID-19. Beyond the realms of franchises, his films ‘Rain Man’ and ‘The Last Samurai’ have achieved impressive financial milestones, surpassing the $350 million and $450 million benchmarks respectively.

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