‘Mission: Impossible 4’ bound to happen, but will it star Tom Cruise?

HollywoodNews.com: Paramount is looking to make a fourth “Mission: Impossible,” the question is whether or not it stars Tom Cruise.

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore told the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, “We absolutely are excited about having Tom Cruise star in this movie.”

But insiders and observers claim that Paramount’s courtship with Cruise hinges on the foreign turnout of “Knight and Day.” Typically, Cruise excels abroad at the box office versus his domestic returns. Currently, “Knight and Day,” a $100 million-plus budgeted feature, has crashed at the domestic B.O. with $63 million.

The overseas release for “Knight” has been held up due to the World Cup with many European territories set to be released. “Knight” will unspool this weekend in Australia, Spain and Brazil. To date, “Knight” has made $38 million abroad. For an “M:I-4” greenlight with Tom Cruise to occur, “Knight” will need to make $200 million or more at the foreign B.O.

Many pundits have attributed the lackluster performance of “Knight” to Cruise’s zany public image. Crusie faults Fox for bumbling “Knight.” The Hollywood Reporter –which had the scoop on this story– writes:

Cruise’s reps said (Fox’s co-chairman Tom) Rothman engaged in micromanaging, leading to delays in responding to prerelease research indicating that the movie was not alluring to audiences. And they question a number of marketing decisions, including why the studio never updated a teaser poster that didn’t show the faces of Cruise and his co-star, Cameron Diaz.

Should “Knight” make less than $200 million, it’s plausible that the lead role of Ethan Hunt will be recasted. Such a move would re-boot the entire franchise.

No script has surfaced yet for “M:I-4,” though the studio hopes to release the film for the 2011 holiday season. Paramount wants a budget that’s around $140 million, definitely less than the third installment’s $165 million-plus cost.

Earlier this month, the British press was hot with news that Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer would team up for a long-awaited sequel to “Top Gun.”

In the meantime, it has been widely reported that Cruise is working on a comedy with Ben Stiller about his Les Grossman studio executive character, which was a hit at the MTV Movie Awards.

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