Tom Cruise has committed to reprise his role as Ethan Hunt in the next installment of the "Mission: Impossible" series at Paramount. The action tentpole, which is being co-financed by David Ellison's Skydance Prods., is now slotted for release on Memorial Day weekend 2011.
The reunion between Cruise and the studio once looked unlikely after Cruise's production deal there was cut loose in 2006, the year "Mission: Impossible III" was released. But both parties have recognized the promise in continuing a franchise that has grossed $1.4 billion worldwide.
Cruise has been on board to produce the fourquel with "M:I3" director J.J. Abrams since June. They have handed off an original idea to screenwriters Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, who wrote for Abrams' spy series "Alias."
The studio and producers are now out to directors, as Abrams has not signed on to helm the followup.
With the "Mission" greenlight, Paramount has re-upped another franchise to join forthcoming sequels to 2009 hits "G.I. Joe," "Transformers" (July 2011) and "Star Trek" (June 2012), plus new franchise "The Adventures of Tintin" (Christmas 2011).
Paramount has released Cruise vehicles "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder," "The Firm," "War of the Worlds," "Vanilla Sky" and "Tropic Thunder," which featured the star in a rare secondary comedic role.
Since toplining "Valkyrie" two years ago, the CAA-repped Cruise next stars in the Fox action-comedy "Knight and Day," hitting theaters Fourth of July weekend.