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‘Mission: Impossible’ Director Brian De Palma Rejected Making Sequels: ‘One of These Is Enough’

De Palma adds that "visual storytelling has gone out the window" in today's blockbusters and studio tentpoles.

‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible” franchise got its start in 1996 with “Carrie” and “Scarface” auteur Brian De Palma in the director’s chair. The spy thriller was made for $80 million and became a worldwide hit with $457 million at the global box office. The film’s success made a “Mission: Impossible” sequel a priority for Tom Cruise, but De Palma rejected his star’s plea for a follow-up movie. In a new interview with the Associated Press to promote his novel “Are Snakes Necessary?,” De Palma said he turned down Cruise by telling the actor that one “Mission: Impossible” movie was enough.

“Stories, they keep making them longer and longer only for economic reasons,” De Palma said. “After I made ‘Mission: Impossible,’ Tom asked me to start working on the next one. I said, ‘Are you kidding? One of these is enough. Why would anybody want to make another one?’ Of course, the reason they make another one is to make money. I was never a movie director to make money, which is the big problem of Hollywood. That’s the corruption of Hollywood.”

De Palma does not get the appeal of “Mission: Impossible” sequels, but they’ve proven to be hugely lucrative for Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures. De Palma’s original spawned six sequels, with two additional “Mission: Impossible” films now in development that will bring the franchise to an eight-film total. The most recent entries, Christopher McQuarrie’s 2018 actioner “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” received universal acclaim and made $791 million worldwide, the highest grossing “Mission: Impossible” movie yet. De Palma might be against “Mission: Impossible” sequels, but he looks back fondly on his first and only entry.

“In my mid-50s doing ‘Carlito’s Way’ and then ‘Mission: Impossible,’ it doesn’t get much better than that,” De Palma said. “You have all the power and tools at your disposal. When you have the Hollywood system working for you, you can do some remarkable things. But as your movies become less successful, it gets harder to hold on to the power and you have to start making compromises. I don’t know if you even realize you’re making them. I tend to be very hard-nosed about this. If you have a couple of good decades, that’s good, that’s great.”

De Palma added he’s not impressed by Hollywood movies these days. “The thing that drives me crazy is the way they look,” he said. “Because they’re shooting digitally they’re just lit terribly. I can’t stand the darkness, the bounced light. They all look the same. I believe in beauty in cinema. Susan and I were looking at ‘Gone With the Wind’ the other day and you’re just struck at how beautiful the whole movie is. The sets, how Vivien Leigh is lit, it’s just extraordinary. If you look at the stuff that’s streaming all the time, it’s all muck. Visual storytelling has gone out the window.”

De Palma’s “Are Snakes Necessary?” was released March 17 and is now available to purchase. Head over to the AP’s website to read the director’s latest interview in its entirety.

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