Tom Hanks Once Competed with Tom Cruise and Will Smith For This Title

Most actors are fortunate if they land a single role that fans will remember forever. In the case of some stars — such as Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Will Smith — their on-screen legacies are more than secure. In fact, Hanks, Cruise, and Smith have starred in countless movies that will never be forgotten. The three actors even once competed for a very specific record in the industry. Here’s what it was and who ultimately won out.

Tom Hanks wears glasses and a dark jacket at the ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ opening night
Tom Hanks | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Will Smith were all hitmakers in the 1990s

After starring on TV’s Bosom Buddies, Hanks began a transition to movies with Splash and Bachelor Party in 1984. But it wasn’t until he landed his first Oscar nomination for 1988’s Big that his path to becoming an A-lister kicked in. Around the same time, Cruise was fast becoming one of the biggest stars in the world, having headlined mega-hits like Risky Business, Top Gun, and Rain Man.

By the mid-1990s, Cruise was an icon poised to kick off the Mission: Impossible franchise. Hanks had already won two Academy Awards. And another star, Smith, was about to become the world-saving hero of Independence Day and Men in Black. Needless to say, all three actors were in their prime. So it stands to reason they would be competing on some level.

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The 3 actors were all in contention for a very specific box office record

During that period, Hanks, Cruise, and Smith could all seemingly do no wrong. It was an era where putting a beloved star on a movie’s poster almost universally guaranteed fans would flock to the theater. And because of that, the three actors once shared a record for the actor with the most consecutive movies to earn more than $100 million at the box office.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, even less commercial movies such as Cruise’s Vanilla Sky, Hanks’ Road to Perdition, and Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness all surpassed the $100 million milestone domestically. However, that three-way tie ultimately broke in 2008 when Smith headlined another hit, Hancock. According to The Richest, Smith remains behind only Samuel L. Jackson as the star of the most movies to make more than $100 million.

What are Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Will Smith doing next?

Even into the 2020s, Hanks, Cruise, and Smith remain huge stars. In fact, Hanks and Smith have Disney to thank for their biggest worldwide hits in Toy Story 4 and Aladdin, both released in 2019. Meanwhile, Cruise had his biggest hit in 2018’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout. But what do these three superstars have coming up next?

Cruise fans can look forward to two long-awaited sequels. Both Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible 7 are set for release in 2022. Also in 2022, Hanks will play Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis and Geppetto in Disney’s live-action Pinocchio. And Smith is currently working on his next project, an action-thriller called Emancipation.

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