Tom Cruise and his film production partner Paula Wagner are to assume control of the defunct United Artists film studio, it has been announced.
United Artists' owners, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, announced the deal with the 44-year-old actor and his long-term business partner yesterday, in a move which comes just two months after their 14-year production relationship with Paramount Pictures came to an abrupt end amid claims that Cruise's off-screen antics were damaging the studio.
Cruise, who has caused controversy in Hollywood by publicly promoting his belief in Scientology and unashamedly making eccentric displays of his love for fiancee Katie Holmes, will produce at least four films a year for United Artists under the new deal.
Meanwhile, his production partner Wagner will assume day-to-day control of the studio as its new chief executive.
In a statement MGM chairman Harry Sloan said the partnership with Cruise and Wagner would allow United Artists to become a "haven for independent film makers" once again.
The studio was founded in 1919 by the giant star of the silent screen Charlie Chaplin and three other leading actors of the time in an attempt to transfer creative control over film-making from movie financiers to artists themselves.
However the studio, which last teamed up with Cruise to make the Oscar-winning 1988 hit Rain Man, has been virtually dormant since MGM changed hands in 2005.
Commenting on the new production deal with the actor, MGM chief Harry Sloan described Cruise and Wagner as "modern versions of the iconic founders of United Artists" and said the agreement with them reaffirmed the company's commitment to "providing creative talent with a comfortable home".
In a separate statement Cruise said that he and his business partner were "very respectful of the rich history and tradition of United Artists".
"We welcome the opportunity to contribute to that legacy by providing a wide range of releases that appeal to all audiences," said the actor.
"It's our desire to create an environment where film-makers can thrive and see their visions realised," he added.