Movies Head Honcho Remembers Tom Cruise Hiding Out In Theaters To Gauge Audience Reactions As She Presented Him With Award

Tom Cruise is having a real moment. The action star’s already singular career has enjoyed a massive resurgence as Top Gun: Maverick continues to receive awards recognition following its enviable box office success. The actor was granted a prestigious award during this year's Producers Guild of America awards ceremony, and former Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing presented him with the honor while sharing a funny anecdote calling back to a strange (if understandable) habit that Cruise took up whenever his movies premiered in theaters. 

Cruise was presented with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the 2023 PGAs for his lifelong career in the movie-making business, as well as for keeping audiences in theater seats during recent years. Lansing, who is now the head of Universal Media Group, praised the movie star for his commitment to the business and for his passionate work as a producer. She also reflected on how much Cruise has always loved seeing reactions from those watching his films, and spoke to the lengths he used to go to see a crowd’s response. She said (via THR):

He used to sit in the projection booth where nobody could see him or hide in the back of the theaters so he could see the audience reactions.

While not the only example of such water-testing in Hollywood, it's indeed a smart and pretty funny way for cast and crew member to watch their own movies without being recognized. While some actors prefer not to watch their own performances back, especially not on the big screen, Cruise apparently really cares about the finished product and puts a lot of emphasis on how an audience responds to what he's putting out there. This is clearly more a part of his producer-based mindset, and it’s no surprise the Guild decided to honor him after he brought Maverick back to theaters in the biggest way possible. 

In addition, the Risky Business actor has long been a hype-worthy proponent of movie theaters in general, and he was a big part of why Top Gun: Maverick was held back for  as long as it was, to ensure the film received a successful theatrical distribution. The film performed incredibly well, of course, and the king of blockbusters himself, Steven Spielberg, recently praised Cruise for saving cinemas. The actor has a real love for the artform, and previously revealed he watches a movie every single day. He didn't share how many he's still watching from projection booths, but one can only assume he keeps his public viewings to a minimum. 

Cruise’s commitment to his craft will be heightened in his upcoming film Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. The action-packed trailer promised more death-defying stunts and more action packed chase sequences than ever before. One behind-the-scenes video showed the Oscar nominee riding a motorcycle off of a cliff and parachuting off of the vehicle to safety. It's mind-boggling to watch, and truly shows how far Cruise will go to get the perfect shot. And I'm sure if there was a way for him to gauge everyone's reaction to watching the trailer on YouTube, he likely would. 

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is set to hit theaters on July 14th, 2023, so mark your calendars now. In the meantime, you can currently revisit the smash hit film Top Gun: Maverick with a Paramount+ subscription. For fans wanting to see more from the titular star, check out all the upcoming Tom Cruise films we are already anticipating. 

Caroline Young

Writer, podcaster, CinemaBlend contributor, film and television nerd, enthusiastic person. Hoping to bring undying passion for storytelling to CinemaBlend.