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A New Space Race Begins: Russia Aims to Beat Tom Cruise by Sending an Actor to Space in 2021

Cruise's $200 million space movie might not be the first film to shoot aboard the International Space Station after all.

Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible - Fallout"

Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

Chiabella James /© Paramount /Courtesy Everett Collection

One of the biggest films to be announced in 2020 was Tom Cruise and Doug Liman’s $200 million space movie that will become the first Hollywood narrative feature to film scenes in space. The project will also make Cruise the first actor to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) to film a movie — unless Russia beats Hollywood to it. As Sky News reported last month, Channel One is teaming up with Russian space agency Roscosmos for the film “Challenge,” which is aiming send an actress to space for a shoot at the ISS in October 2021.

A casting announcement posted by Roscosmos says the production is looking for “a real superhero to go to the stars…at the same time as becoming a big international star.” An open casting call is taking place to find the actress who will travel to space for the film. Applicants do not have to be professional actors, but they do have to be between the ages of 25 and 40 and be physically fit. Only Russian citizens are being considered for the part.

According to Sky News: “The actress must weigh between 50 and 70 kg and have a ‘chest girth’ of up to 112 cm…Additionally, she must be able to run 1 km in three-and-a-half minutes or less, swim 800 m freestyle in 20 minutes, and dive from a three-meter springboard with an impressive technique.”

News broke May 4 that Cruise would be partnering with NASA and Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturing company SpaceX for a new project that would bring the actor to space and film aboard the International Space Station. Cruise’s “Edge of Tomorrow” director Liman is helming the project. The script is currently being written and will include major actions sequences shot aboard the ISS.

Variety reported in July that “at least two of the major streaming platforms were not invited to bid on the project,” as Cruise is adamant about bringing the space movie to theaters. Before Cruise heads to space, he’ll finish production on the next two “Mission: Impossible” movies. The actor also has Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” awaiting release in 2021 after it got delayed from this year because of the pandemic.

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