The Church of Scientology appears to have lost two of its highest-profile disciples.
Tom Cruise and his Australian actress wife Nicole Kidman quit soon after completing Eyes Wide Shut , the late director Stanley Kubrick's last film, according to reports in Hollywood.
"The Tinseltown buzz is that Cruise and Kidman have quietly severed their ties to the Church of Scientology," said American gossip columnists Marcus Baram and Marc Malkin in the latest issue of US Weekly magazine.
"Despite their representatives' denials, we hear that Cruise and Kidman started limiting their involvement in the church after shooting the Kubrick movie."
The multimillionaire couple's defection would be a major blow to the contentious group, which is under attack from many governments in Europe and has been suffering a slump in membership.
The church, founded by late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, is constantly attacked by opponents as nothing more than a money-making organisation which offers crude self-help theology to its congregations.
Some ex-members have claimed they were exposed to harassment and intimidation when they tried to break free of the organisation. Many have launched lawsuits trying to recoup the large amounts of money they say they were swindled out of while members of the group.
But if Scientology's hierarchy try to put pressure on the two stars to remain members it may prove a mission impossible.
"Cruise and Kidman's power in Hollywood might make it easier to escape without suffering a backlash," US Weekly reported.
Cruise was introduced to the sect in 1987 by his then first wife, actress Mimi Rogers, a long-time Scientologist.
But the actor has often reacted defensively when questioned about his membership and when Kidman was a guest on a radio show she stated that she was a Catholic.
"I have gained a lot from Scientology," Cruise said in 1993. But he added: "The Church of Scientology doesn't run my life or career."
And he appears not to have been very supportive of fellow Scientologist John Travolta's attempts to turn Hubbard's book Battlefield Earth into a movie.
While working on Eyes Wide Shut, it is claimed that he hinted to executives at Warner Bros, the studio behind both movie projects, that releasing Battlefield Earth would be a mistake.
Initial reports have slammed the film, in which Travolta plays an evil space alien. Battlefield Earth is scheduled to be released in the United States on May 12.
Note: This article was later contradicted