Many headlines have been written recently about the possibility that longtime supporter and spokesperson Tom Cruise may be leaving the Church of Scientology, but those reports conflict with recent news about the opening of Scientology Media Productions. The new movie studio opened its doors on May 28 after five years of renovations, the Daily Mail reported earlier today.
Books and documentaries from former Scientology members have surfaced in the last two years that have tarnished church’s mostly secretive history, including former King of Queens actress Leah Remini’s Troublemaker, which was released last year.
The documentaries, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief by Alex Gibney and My Scientology Movie by Louis Theroux have both done damage to the church’s reputation, as well. So, it is no surprise that the Church of Scientology leader, David Miscavige, has had enough and says the $50 million studio will now be an “uncorrupted communication line to the billions.”
The church has recently interviewed both Gibney and Theroux in response “because as the saying goes, if you don’t write your own story, someone else will,” says Miscavige. “So, yes, we’re now going to be writing our story like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions.”
The new media center is located on Sunset Boulevard and was acquired from local Los Angeles public TV station KCET, with boasts of being bigger and better than what you would find at Paramount Studios, and in the center of it all is Tom Cruise, who is set to film future blockbuster movies there. Scenes from two of Cruise’s earlier films, Days of Thunder and Far And Away, were filmed at the Scientology headquarters in Hemet, California.
The Daily Mail says that this new facility will allow Cruise and Scientology to “heavily influence the movie world again which they were doing back in the day where they influenced around top Hollywood executives to get what they wanted on films such as War of the Worlds, Days of Thunder and Battlefield Earth.”
In addition to movie-making, the church says that it plans on providing a CNN-like news broadcast focused on Scientology. “Scientology Media Productions (SMP) is poised to broadcast important, good, vital news to the world. News reaching TV screens; facts and opinion destined to radios; magazines hot off of digital presses; information beamed to computers, tablets and cellphones,” says the church in a recent statement. “The studio includes state-of-the-art sound stages, creative suites, visual effects production areas, editing, audio recording and mixing, foreign language translation and dubbing – every aspect of broadcast and online production. It’s the most modern and sophisticated digital media facility of its kind on the planet.”
Miscavige has said that “the average young adult spends ten hours of every day on the internet, and someone searches for ‘the meaning of life’ every five seconds, while someone else searches for answers about ‘spirituality’ six times per second. SMP will harness the power of every social media outlet imaginable to provide those answers.”
Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder agrees that the new studio rivals Paramount, but says that it will be wasted on the church. “This is Scientology’s version of a cross between Paramount and Disneyland. The idea of this thing is not just feature movies, but TV ads, informational videos, TV programs. This is their platform to make their break in Hollywood,” Rinder said. “They don’t need this new base, so the question becomes why? It’s just a fundraising ploy, to buy real estate, to persuade people to give them money, and if they can come up with the concoction that this is the next great thing to tell the world about Scientology, then all the better.”
He then goes on to say that the whole project is a front.
“There’s ten of millions now being spent, but it will be just another empty building. It doesn’t matter what goes on there, it makes it look like they’re expanding, so [followers will think] they must be doing well.”
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]