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Casting Watch: Tom Cruise Gears Up for Fifth ‘Mission: Impossible,’ as Abrams Defects to ‘Star Wars’

Casting Watch: Tom Cruise Gears Up for Fifth 'Mission: Impossible,' as Abrams Defects to 'Star Wars'

Stop the presses! Tom Cruise has signed on to star in and produce the fifth “Mission: Impossible” film following Brad Bird’s wildly successful “Ghost Protocol” (2011, $700 million worldwide). Needless to say, such a vital franchise is the life’s blood of the studios these days. And Cruise is one of the few movie stars who has some standing as a marquee draw even apart from his signature role as Ethan Hunt. (Would you believe that this franchise was brought back to life in 1996 by Brian De Palma?).

“M:I 4” was Cruise’s biggest grosser to date. Fifteen of Cruise’s films have grossed over $100 million
in the United States and, showing his substantial star power overseas, nineteen have grossed over $200 million globally, including his current sci-fi thriller “Oblivion,” which is limping to $75 million stateside.

Paramount Pictures and its Skydance Productions — who collaboratively backed “Ghost Protocol” and, now, “Star Trek Into Darkness” — will produce with Cruise, alongside J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. Paramount needs this badly. Even though “Star Trek Into Darkness” has been gorgeously mounted by Abrams and Co. and will do oodles of business around the world, Abrams has defected–and believe me, it is considered as such by Abrams parent studio–to Disney and Lucasfilm to helm the first of the new “Star Wars” pictures–even after he publicly stated that he would not do so.

Paramount Pictures president and CEO Brad Grey has lost his heaviest 500-pound gorilla to the competition. Abrams makes clear in this NYT interview that his involvement in another “Trek” is by no means clear. So the least he can do is continue to help out on the “M.I” front–his other Paramount franchise.

Paramount will announce a writer and director shortly; the project will be developed by “M:I” producers Cruise, Paramount and Bad Robot. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Tom on ‘Mission:Impossible’ once again,” said Paramount Pictures Grey. “The last installment of the Mission series was the biggest in the life of this franchise. Tom has been at the heart of its success and we look forward to his great talent, and the continued global appeal for another Mission, to drive fans around the world to the next chapter of this series.”

The “Mission: Impossible” franchise has earned over $2 billion at the worldwide box office.

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