Tom Cruise is paying back MGM for helping to resuscitate his career.  The once proud lion, now under new management, pulled off something of a minor miracle by turning the once thought dead Nazi thriller "Valkyrie" into a surprising $82 million hit.  In the process, the marketing team managed to make Cruise seem as close to a normal guy as he can get these days and restored his box office potential.  Now, Cruise, who is also the head of MGM funded United Artists, is joining Denzel Washington in one of the studio's highest priorities, the big screen adaptation of the Robert Ludlum thriller "The Matarese Circle."

According to Variety, Cruise will face off against Washington as the box office giants play two hated enemy spies who are forced to team up together against the Matarese, a powerful group behind a dangerous conspiracy.  Originally set against the backdrop of the COld War, "Wanted" screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas have refashioned the story into a contemporary tale that critically acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg will direct.

MGM has also acquired the rights to another Ludlum book with the same characters, "The Matarese Countdown" which could allow the studio to create a franchise as Universal Pictures did with Ludlum's "The Bourne Identity."

While "Circle" should begin production later this year for a 2010 release, Cruise is first expected to shoot Spyglass Entertainment's Sci-Fi thriller "The Tourist" opposite Charlize Theron.

Washington will be seen this June alongside John Travolta in Tony Scott's "The Taking of Pelham 123" and is currently shooting the post-apocalyptic Western "The Book of Eli" with Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis.

 

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