Paramount saved its biggest star for last at Wednesday’s CinemaCon presentation. Pioneer of the Year Tom Cruise, with director Chris McQuarrie and co-stars Simon Pegg, Angela Bassett, and Henry Cavill, walked theater owners behind the scenes of his latest outrageous “Mission: Impossible” stunt. “I’m scared to see the dailies,” admitted new chairman Jim Gianopulos.
For “M:I – Fallout” (July 27), besides various hair-raising helicopter and motorcycle stunts in the streets of Paris including a rapid swing against traffic around the Arc de Triomphe — Cruise wanted to perform a high-altitude skydive from over 25,000 feet. So he and his director devised a sequence that was “physically possible without killing him,” said McQuarrie.
It took a year and building the largest wind tunnel in the world to prepare. The production designer came up with a special glass helmet with oxygen and lights so you could see the movie star who was performing skydives out of a C-17. They shot for three minutes at magic hour, three days in a row. The first part required a cameraman with a camera rig on his helmet to jump out of the plane backwards and film Cruise in narrow focus exactly three feet away. Otherwise, with the low light, it would be out of focus.
Then Cruise had to chase a stuntman falling at 200 mph in the air, re-attach an oxygen hose, and deploy his parachute — and his own — in time to not plummet to the ground. Obviously, Cruise survived, but Pegg said that several times he and costar Rebecca Ferguson really thought their co-star might not survive some of his daredevil stunts. “The skills of this man know no limit,” said Cavill, who admired Cruise’s helicopter flying ability. “I felt I was in ‘Top Gun!'”
Later that night, Cruise became the first actor to receive the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation’s Pioneer of the Year award. James Corden emceed the award dinner attended by Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” costars Bassett, Cavill and Pegg. 2500 CinemaCon attendees were reminded that Cruise’s three-decade career (“Top Gun,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Risky Business,” “Minority Report,” “Interview with the Vampire,” “A Few Good Men,” “The Firm,” “Rain Man,” “Collateral,” “The Last Samurai,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” and “The Color of Money”) yielded three Oscar nominations and $9 billion box office. Next summer comes his sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” (July 12, 2019).