Valkyrie is a historical thriller film set in Germany during World War II. The film depicts the July 20, 1944 plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler and to use the operation Valkyrie national emergency plan to take control of the country. Valkyrie was directed by Bryan Singer under the American studio United Artists, and the film stars Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the key plotters. Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp and Tom Wilkinson are also featured as fellow plotters.
Cruise’s casting caused controversy among German politicians and members of von Stauffenberg’s family because of the actor’s practice of Scientology, which is considered a totalitarian organization in the country. German newspapers and filmmakers supported the film to spread global awareness of von Stauffenberg’s plot. The filmmakers initially had difficulty setting up filming locations in Germany due to the controversy, but they were later given leeway to film in locations pertaining to the film’s story, such as Berlin’s historic Bendlerblock.
The film changed release dates several times, from as early as June 27, 2008 to as late as February 14, 2009. The changing calendar and poor response to United Artists’s initial marketing campaign drew criticism about the studio’s viability. After a positive test screening, Valkyrie’s release in North America was ultimately changed to December 25, 2008. United Artists renewed its marketing campaign to reduce its focus on Cruise and to highlight Singer’s credentials. The film has received mixed reviews in the United States. It opened commercially in Germany on January 22, 2009, where reports were mixed about the German reception of the film. To date, Valkyrie has grossed nearly $83 million in the United States and Canada, adding to a total of over $198 million worldwide.