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Tom Cruise's star has dimmed - US opinion poll

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, May 11 (Reuters) Days after Tom Cruise's movie, ''Mission: Impossible III,'' opened to lackluster ticket sales, a new opinion poll may explain why -- the actor's star power has dimmed considerably in the eyes of the public.

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll published yesterday, just 35 per cent of adults surveyed over the weekend, when the film debuted in theaters, said they had a favorable opinion of Cruise. Fifty-one percent had an unfavorable opinion.

That's a major turnaround from about a year ago, when Cruise's previous film, ''War of the Worlds,'' opened and his poll ratings were 58 per cent favorable and 31 per cent unfavorable.

USA Today reported that Cruise's popularity with women experienced the sharpest drop, from a 56 per cent favorable rating in 2005 to 35 per cent now.

''Mission: Impossible III'' grossed 47.7 million dollar in its first three days at the North American box office, well short of the 60 million dollar to 70 million dollar expected by industry watchers despite generally warm reviews and an extra-wide opening in more than 4,000 theaters.

The action film, distributed by Paramount Pictures, cost just under 150 million dollar to make.

Some experts said the movie suffered from overexposure of Cruise in the media during three weeks of publicity, premieres and news stories about him, his fiance, actress Katie Holmes, and their newborn daughter, Suri.

Cruise's publicist was not immediately available for comment on the falling poll numbers. But a spokesman, Arnold Robinson, was quoted in USA Today blaming saturation press coverage of Cruise's personal life.

''The only thing new in his life is this movie and his baby with a woman he loves,'' Robinson said. ''The public has been besieged with these images. Whose fault is that? Tom hasn't done anything.'' USA Today said that many of its survey's 1,013 respondents cited Cruise's eyebrow-raising behavior during the past year, including his blunt criticism of psychiatry and actress Brooke Shield's treatment for postpartum depression, for their waning impression of him.

''As a woman who has dealt with postpartum depression and has taken antidepressants in the past, I have no desire to line Mr Cruise's pockets with any of my hard-earned cash,'' Fiona Sutten, 34, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, told USA Today.

Cruise also became the butt of countless jokes for his manic, couch-hopping appearance on ''The Oprah Winfrey Show'' last May to declare his love for actress Katie Holmes, who bore the actor's first biological child last month.

A recent story by Entertainment Weekly questioned whether the 43-year-old Cruise, long one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, was still worth the salary he once commanded.

Dave Karger, the author of that article, told USA Today, ''A lot of people came up to me and said, 'I don't want to support this movie's first weekend.' They made a conscious choice to avoid it.'' REUTERSSRS SSC1307

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