Cruise is noted as having negotiated some of the most lucrative film deals in Hollywood, and was described in 2005 by Hollywood economist Edward Jay Epstein as one of the most powerful and richest forces in Hollywood. Epstein argues that Cruise is one of the few producers (the others being George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckheimer) who are regarded as able to guarantee the success of a billion dollar film franchise. Epstein also contends that the public obsession with Cruises tabloid controversies obscures full appreciation of Cruises exceptional commercial prowess.
Cruise Wagner Productions, Cruises film production company, is said to be developing a screenplay based on Erik Larsons New York Times bestseller, The Devil in the White City about a real life serial killer, H. H. Holmes, at Chicagos Worlds Columbian Exposition. Kathryn Bigelow is attached to the project to produce and helm. Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprios production company, Appian Way, is also developing a film about Holmes and the Worlds Fair, in which DiCaprio will star.