When United Artists said this month that it would again delay the release of "Valkyrie," in which Tom Cruise plays a German officer who tries to kill Hitler, the Web went into obituary mode.
One Hollywood Internet site, thehotblog.com, flatly declared, "Valkyrie is dead." Another, defamer.com, said that the revival of United Artists had effectively died with it.
Meanwhile, Roger Friedman, a widely read Web reporter with a column on foxnews.com, had some career advice for Mr. Cruise: "He needs another 'Jerry Maguire'-like romantic comedy, and he needs it now."
The death notices are remarkable in that United Artists, in its current version, was financed just eight months ago. And there is no way to be certain about "Valkyrie" until the film, first set for release in June, then October, and now Feb. 13, 2009, finally opens.
In the interim Mr. Cruise, his partners at United Artists and the "Valkyrie" filmmakers are bracing for what will likely be a nine-month fight to prove their critics wrong. "We will not be daunted," Paula Wagner, chief executive of United Artists, said last week.