The celebrity news cycle was thrown into chaos late last week when word leaked that Katie Holmes had filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, her husband of five years. America's ceaseless fascination with their relationship — its swift beginning, its infusion with Scientology, its creation of daughter Suri — made "TomKat" one of the most scrutinized A-list couples in Hollywood. On the heels of the split, Cruise is still grappling with the disappointing release of Rock of Ages while gearing up for the December release of the action thriller Jack Reacher. Holmes is still smarting from the critical whipping her latest film, Jack and Jill, received, and has a handful of films in production. Will news of their divorce help or hurt their careers?

If Cruise isn't careful, this will hurt him: Cruise would be wise to be extra kind and cautious, entertainment journalist Bonnie Fuller tells USA Today. It wasn't all that long ago that he created a PR nightmare for himself by jumping on Oprah's couch and criticizing Brooke Shields for her use of prescription drugs to treat postpartum depression. Sure, last year's Mission: Impossible installment was one of the biggest hits of his career, but Rock of Ages was a total bust. "This cannot turn into an ugly divorce battle." Any perception of a nasty custody fight, or that Cruise is not being generous to Holmes "would be the greatest harm he can do for his public image."
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Holmes stands to gain the most from the split: It might be hard to remember, but before she was one half of TomKat, Holmes was "making risky — but wise — indie films," culminating in her starring role in Christopher Nolan's mega-hit Batman Beginssays Yahoo. "The sky seemed to be the limit" for her film career. But then Cruise reportedly demanded that Holmes' topless scene be cut from Thank You for Smoking, word spread of his tight control over her career, and Holmes took a three-year hiatus from starring in films. Perhaps freeing herself from Cruise will "reinvigorate her career."
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Let's be honest — there's nowhere to go but up: Cruise's films have always tended to do solidly with critics, but his box office grosses took a huge dive during his five-year marriage, says Slate, to nearly half as much as his movies made in the period between his marriages to Nicole Kidman and Holmes. As for Holmes? Her box office average plummeted from $28 million to just $9 million, and many of her Cruise-era films were critically savaged. Though Cruise "suffered less than Holmes," both careers took a turn for the worse during this ill-fated marriage — despite rampant speculation that the union was intended to boost their careers.
"Was the Cruise-Holmes marriage good for their careers?"