Cruise outstrips top movie earners with $75m 'stellar' year

 

The stakes in Tom Cruise's increasingly ugly divorce battle were raised further yesterday with news that the actor can once more claim to be Hollywood's best-paid star, earning an estimated $75m (£50m) in the past year.

Research by Forbes magazine, which publishes an annual list of the film industry's biggest incomes, suggests that Cruise had more than twice the financial success of his nearest rivals Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler, who each had to make do with $37m (£24.6m).

Figures for the year to May show that Cruise has the magazine called a "stellar year" after the success of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which he starred in and produced, and which took just under $700m at the box office against a budget of $145m.

Cruise's success will be central to any settlement with his estranged third wife Katie Holmes, 33, who filed for divorce in New York last week, apparently citing "irreconcilable differences" over whether their daughter Suri, six, should be introduced to the Scientology religion Cruise follows. The couple's pre-nuptial agreement, signed in 2006, is thought to stipulate that Holmes should receive $3m for each year of their marriage, but it remains for a judge to deal with the thorny matter of child maintenance.

Typically, New York courts calculate child support at 17 per cent of a couple's overall income. Jeff Landers, a divorce lawyerquoted by Forbes, said that did not necessarily mean Holmes would end up enjoying a $9m-a-year settlement. "There are caps," he said. "After the first $400,000 in earnings, it's up to the judge's discretion."

Cruise, who reportedly cancelled his 50th birthday celebrations on Tuesday, wants the case to be heard in Los Angeles, where courts are more likely to grant joint custody of a divorced couple's children. New York, where Holmes filed her petition, is more likely to give her control of Suri.

Either way, the divorce is prompting unrelenting scrutiny of Cruise's relationship with the controversial Church of Scientology.

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