Exclusive : Skydance wants Mission : Impossible 5 asap!

mission5

Some might consider this bit of news for the ‘Well, duh!’ pile – but considering where I got the news, I think we’ll take more stock into the talk that Paramount is indeed pushing forward with plans to make a fifth “Mission : Impossible” movie.

Was it always a slam-dunk that “Mission : Impossible Ghost Protocol” would generate as many greenbacks as it has!? God no! Considering the Tom Cruise factor (audiences give the ‘bath’ treatment to the actor quite regularly these days; hot one minute, cold the next) and the lackluster returns on Cruise’s last action offering, “Knight & Day”, “Ghost Protocol” was never a sure-thing. But with terrific word-of-mouth, sensational reviews, and being one of the few big IMAX releases around (some say it’s also been helped along by the IMAX-only “Dark Knight Rises” prologue that screens with it), the Brad Bird directed blockbuster has defied the cynics and reestablished Tom Cruise as a bonafide movie star.

And now Paramount wants more.

The film opened earlier in Australia, where it quickly rose to the top of the box office, but “Ghost Protocol” has only been in U.S cinemas since Friday – where it screened sneaks at IMAX theaters to an amazing $17.1 million; a further $2 million was made on Tuesday, as the film arrived in more locations around the states. (In India, it’s made four times what “Mission : Impossible III” did!)

“We are absolutely thrilled with the MIGP start internationally,” Paramount Pictures International head Anthony Marcoly said earlier. “The filmmaking team has provided us with an exceptionally playing film that moviegoers around the world are embracing. With two and a half weeks of school holidays still to come, we are positioned extremely well as the must see event over the Christmas season.”

So, anywayyyyyyyy…..

Over email I just spoke to someone in production at Paramount who said they’re “extremely happy” with how well the film was doing (going so far as to suggest it might be the big money-maker of the Christmas period; Personally, I think “The Muppets” and “Tintin” are forces to be reckoned with) and that they’ve heard “Skydance definitely wants to get going quickly on [Mission] 5. And a Top Gun” with Tom. Paramount are onboard for both.

Considering Paramount served Tom Cruise a pink-slip a few years back, no longer wanting him and his production company based at the studio, that’s an amazing about-face. Not only are the studio now as confident as ever that Cruise and his “Mission : Impossible” series should go on, and as soon as possible, but it sounds like the “Top Gun” sequel – which Cruise, Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer have been discussing – is as good as a lock. Helping solidify confidence? Young David Ellison (who my producing partner co-starred with in a film for Universal a year or so ago), head of Skydance, is financing both “M:I GP”, it’s next sequel, and “Top Gun 2″ – when someone else is paying for a great wad of the bills, no studio’s going to complain, right?! But sounds like it’s young Ellison – and Paramount too, of course – who’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

The plan, originally, was for “Mission : Impossible – Ghost Protocol” to be the final jaunt for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, with Jeremy Renner’s character possibly taking over the series – should it go on. But that’s now changed. Tom is indeed remaining with the “Impossible” series.

Simon Pegg said just as much when we spoke to him last week :

“I think that might have been the plan earlier on”, says Pegg, “but as the film progressed and we enjoyed it so much I think the idea of Ethan Hunt retiring fell by the wayside. Tom [Cruise] suddenly remembered why he loved doing these films so much and suddenly thought ‘well maybe I do want to do more?’.”

If “Mission : Impossible 5″ does become a reality (and all signs suggest it will), Pegg says he’d “love to be part of that gang” again. And he says “It’d be nice to see them go into a mission a little better equipped and prepared and have some things that actually work”, as opposed to what goes on in the latest film.

We asked “Ghost Protocol” director Brad Bird whether he’d be involved in the next movie and he remains non-committal. Still, he did appreciate one suggestion – bringing Leonard Nimoy back as his old character from the TV series for the fourth sequel.

“Hey man, what a good idea! cross pollinating the bad robot films!”, Bird says of bringing ‘Paris’ back from the classic series. “I’ll bring that up with JJ. I’ll be sure to discuss it.”

I think the fact that Brad Bird promises he’ll bring it “up with J.J”, is proof enough that a) Bird might be back for “M:I 5″. b) J.J Abrams and his Bad Robot shingle are planning to continue on making these movies.

But tell me folks, do you think audiences are only interested in seeing Tom Cruise movies that are sequels, or franchises, or bear brand names? Is that why “Mission : Impossible 5″ and “Top Gun 2″ have already got the thumbs up!? Guess the telling will be in how well Cruise vehicles “One-Shot” and “Oblivion” do when they roll out.