Was the Cruise-Holmes Marriage Good for Their Careers?

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June 29 2012 3:53 PM

Was the Cruise-Holmes Marriage Good for Their Careers?

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Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

News that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes will divorce after five and a half years of marriage has reignited speculation that their marriage was intended primarily to benefit both parties’ careers. Of course, this kind of gossip is pretty much impossible to corroborate, but it made us wonder: Whose acting career has benefited more since Holmes and Cruise married in November 2006?

In terms of critical acclaim, Cruise’s career seems to have neither benefited nor been damaged by his marriage to Holmes, a period during which he appeared in such films as Tropic Thunder, Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, and the recent Rock of Ages. (Slate film critic Dana Stevens said that the “real reason to see Rock of Ages” was none other than Mr. Cruise.) The Rotten Tomatoes average rating of Tom Cruise movies during the actor’s marriage to Holmes is 60 percent, only slightly below his career average of 64 percent. He fared slightly better during his marriage to Nicole Kidman, which lasted from December 1990 to August 2001, and between his marriages to Kidman and Holmes: During both of those periods, his mean Rotten Tomatoes score hovered around 70 percent. (Cruise was also previously married to actress Mimi Rogers in the earliest stages of his acting career.)

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Financially, though, Cruise’s career has suffered since he married Holmes. At the box office, his movies have earned an average of $70,963,395 domestically since November 2006, according to data from Box Office Mojo. This is just 58 percent of his average movie gross during his marriage to Kidman ($121,369,835). The flushest period for Cruise at the box office was between his marriage to Kidman and his marriage to Holmes: Then, his movies earned an average of $135,522,399.

Conclusion: Americans were more willing to shell out cash to see Cruise when he was a divorcé. This may bode well for his post-Holmes career.

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As for Holmes, her box-office earning power has clearly and dramatically declined since her marriage to Cruise. Of course, these figures don’t take into account her several small-screen appearances since she wed Cruise, including a guest turn on How I Met Your Mother and a role as Jackie O on the AMC miniseries The Kennedys. But before her marriage to Cruise, Holmes’ films—a group that included such notable works as Wonder Boys, Batman Begins, and Thank You for Smoking—took in an average of $28,487,812. Since the wedding, her films have earned less than a third of that: $9,061,221 on average. Meanwhile, her films’ average Rotten Tomatoes rating has dropped from 58 percent to 27 percent.

Though neither party has experienced a clear career boost from the marriage, Cruise’s has clearly suffered less than Holmes, both critically and at the box office.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

Daniel Lametti is a Montreal-based writer and neuroscientist.

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