Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels is a film with history, and we don’t mean the plot. The history is in its journey from the making to the screens. It was the full-length directorial debut for Guy Ritchie, who went on to direct big projects like Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, Wrath of Man, and such. His upcoming project The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is also highly anticipated. The film also gave Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones a kickstart for the glorious acting career that was in store for them. And lastly, the producer of the crime-comedy, Matthew Vaughn, who went on to direct gems like X-Men: First class and the Kingsman franchise. Needless to say, the film gave Hollywood an international blockbuster and some pretty big names who might have got lost in the hay. But all this might have never happened, if not for Tom Cruise.

Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels was an international hit

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Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels could’ve been nipped in the bud

Nostalgia hits different when in retrospect, despite the bumpy road, the ending is worth the effort. And that holds more than true for the 1998 film, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. During a 2016 interview for the Radio 4 program The Business Of Film, Matthew Vaughn revealed that finding a distributor for the film was an actual struggle and a big one at that. Vaughn was facing a very real possibility of his film career coming to an end before even getting started.

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Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn, the director who invited Tom Cruise to the American Buyers Screening
Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn

However, things took a turn before a special film screening was held in the US. Vaughn was brainstorming every possibility to bring his project to the fore. It was then that he contacted one of the film’s investors, Trudi Styler, and asked her to get in touch with Tom Cruise, who she was acquainted with, and convince him to attend an American buyers’ screening. Styler was skeptical if that would be possible but a try wouldn’t have hurt, and try she did.

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Tom Cruise, his grand entrance, and grander words

Tom Cruise attending an event.
Tom Cruise is not your typical movie star

To everyone’s pleasant surprise, Tom Cruise did attend the screening, which was held in a tiny screening room on a lot at Sony Pictures.

The sheer humility does not align with superstar status. Buyer’s screenings were below priority for stars, especially a star like Tom Cruise. Stars went to premieres. And solely because Tom Cruise is not your stereotypical star, the movie could have a premiere for itself. During the interview, Matthew Vaughn recalled,

“It was hysterical. You had all these mid-level executives sitting there, and Cruise walked in. He saw them all sit up and pay attention, all getting on their phones, and suddenly all these senior executives joined the screening. At the end, Tom got up in front of everyone and said ‘this is the best movie I’ve seen in years, you guys would be fools not to buy it.’

If not for Tom Cruise’s appearance and two hours from his schedule, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels wouldn’t have had a theatrical release at all. Cruise’s review of the film ignited a bidding war among the buyers and the rest is history.

Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Source: Den of Geek

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