Mission Impossible Franchise


The Mission Impossible Film Franchise was inspired by the Mission Impossible series from 1988-1996 starring Peter Graves. Paramount Pictures had the rights to the television series and had tried for years to make a film version but had failed to come up with a viable treatment. Tom Cruise had been a fan of the show since he was young and thought that it would be a good idea for a film. The actor chose Mission: Impossible to be the first project of his new production company and convinced Paramount to put up a $70 million budget.

Cruise and his partner, Paula Wagner, chose Brian de Palma to direct the film. They went through two screenplay drafts that no one liked. De Palma brought in screenwriters Steve Zaillian, David Koepp, and finally Robert Towne. According to the director, the goal of the script was to “constantly surprise the audience.” Reportedly, Koepp was paid $1 million to rewrite an original script by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. According to one project source, there were problems with dialogue and story development. However, the basic plot remained intact.

Thus this is how they made the film, now the actors. Tom Cruise would be playing Ethan Hunt, with Jon Voight to play Jim Phelps. Then they recruited Jean Reno and now recurring character in the franchise, Ving Rhames.

The famous train chase

The script that Cruise approved called for a final showdown to take place on top of a moving train. The actor wanted to use the famously fast French train the TGV but rail authorities did not want any part of the stunt performed on their trains. When that was no longer a problem, the track was not available. De Palma visited railroads on two continents trying to get permission. Cruise took the train owners out to dinner and the next day they were allowed to use it (smooth talking – Jerry Maguire?)

For the actual sequence, the actor wanted wind that was so powerful that it could knock him off the train. Cruise had difficulty finding the right machine that would create the wind velocity that would look visually accurate before remembering a simulator he used while training as a skydiver. The only machine of its kind in Europe was located and acquired. Cruise had it produce winds up to 140 miles per hour so it would distort his face.

The film received critical reception and made $457.7 million dollars, six times bigger than the budget.



Cruise is back, & boy is it with a bang!

With the brilliant success of the first film, in 1997 the second film went into production. Brian de Palma was offered the role to direct but declined. After de Palma declining the studio offered the role to John Woo, who accepted. With directing role filled and the production soon to begin, they started rounding up some actors. Ving Rhames reprised his role as Luther Stickell. John Polson was an addition to the IMF team as the “Australian Helicopter pilot.”

Paramount Pictures expressed concern over the safety of shooting Tom Cruise’s entrance to the film, where he is free solo climbing in Moab. Cruise refused to drop the idea because he could not think of a better way to reintroduce the character. There was no safety net as he filmed the sequence, but he did have a harness. He tore his shoulder when performing Hunt’s jump from one part of the cliff to another.

Daredevil: Tom drives a bike through fire and climbs a mountain unassisted for Mission: Impossible II
Cruise climbing in the opening sequence

The film finished filming at the end of 1998 and was released in May 2000. With a higher budget of $125 million dollars Paramount wanted MI2 to do well. The film was a financial success. In its North American opening weekend the film grossed $57,845,297. The film eventually grossed $215,409,889 in its North American release and $330,978,216 in other territories, totaling $546,388,105 worldwide, the highest-grossing film of 2000 and the biggest haul for a John Woo film. By the way, I forgot to tell you that the music in MI2 was done by Hans Zimmer!



In 2002, director David Fincher was slated to direct the next installment of the Mission: Impossible film series for a summer of 2004 release date. Fincher, however, dropped out in favour of another film, later citing creative differences over the direction of the series. Replacing Fincher was director Joe Carnahan, who worked on developing the film for 15 months. Under his involvement, the film was to feature “Kenneth Braugh playing a guy who’s based on Timothy McVeigh,” as well as Carrie-Ann Moss and Scarlett Johansson in other roles. Thandie Newton was offered to reprise her role as Nyah Nordoff-Hall from Mission: Impossible II; she declined, however.

After a dispute over the film’s tone, Carnahan quit in July 2004. Tom Cruise then called J.J Abrams, offering the directorial role for the film after having binge-watched the first two seasons of Alias. Abrams ultimately signed on, with production delayed a year due to his contractual obligations with Alias and Lost. During this time, Branagh, Moss, and Johansson departed from the project because of the many delays in production. On June 8, 2005, Paramount Pictures gave the film the green-light after a new cast of actors including Phillip Seymour Hoffman was hired and the film’s budget was redeveloped to $150m, with Cruise taking a major pay cut.

Principal Photography began in Rome, Italy in July 2005. Filming took place in Germany, United States, China, Italy and the Vatican City. Once finished, the film was scheduled for release on May 5th 2006. The expectations were high for this film, not only on the financial side, but also that the last two films were epically good and on the financial side were now making over half a billion dollars. To be fair though, the film had a lot of road bumps, but finally at the end of 2005, the filming had finished.

The premiere of the film was two days before the release in Hong Kong. Opening in 4,054 theatres all across the United States, the fourth largest opening ever up to that point, the film topped the box office in its opening weekend. It made $16.6 million on its opening day and $47.7 million in its opening weekend, a solid opening yet almost $10 million lower than the franchise’s previous instalment. The film remained at number one with $25 million during its second weekend, ahead of Poseidon ‘s gross of $22.2 million. The film remained in the Top 10 at the box office for the remainder of its first six weeks of release. Mission: Impossible III ended its initial domestic run on July 20, 2006, taking in a total of $134 million. It was the second movie in 2006 to pass the $100,000,000 mark in the box office, following Ice Age: The Meltdown. The $134 million domestic run was significantly lower than that of Mission Impossible II, as well as box office analysts’ expectations. Worldwide it grossed $397.3m, well under expectation.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Despite Mission: Impossible III earning less than its predecessors at the box office, Paramount Pictures was keen on developing a fourth film. In August 2009, Josh Applebaum and André Nemec were hired to write the film’s screenplay. Because of other commitments, J. J. Abrams said that it was unlikely for him to return as director but made note that he will produce the film alongside Tom Cruise. By March 2010, director Brad Bird was in talks of directing the film with Cruise officially returning to star as Ethan Hunt. The budget for the film was $5 million less than Mission Impossible III at $145m.

Ving Rhames stared for the fourth time in the series, now only he and Cruise have starred in all the films. Simon Pegg joined the crew but was in Mission Impossible III with a smaller role. Jeremy Renner also joined the project. Filming took place in Mumbai, Prague, Moscow, Vancouver, Bangalore and Dubai. The film was set to be released on December 16th 2011.

In one of the scenes Ethan Hunt is free climbing on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. For the first time in the franchise Cruise used a stunt double, but still, he couldn’t resist sitting on top of the world’s tallest building when they were not filming!

burj1-xlargeThe film was released on the 16th of December and was a financial success, grossing $209,397,903 in the U.S. Worldwide the film grossed an amazing $694.7m making it the most successful Mission Impossible film yet.


Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Paramount Pictures announced in August 2013 that Christopher McQuarrie would direct the fifth Mission: Impossible film, from a script by Drew Pearce, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt. Tom Cruise Productions and Bad Robot would produce, and Skydance Productions, who served as co-financers and executive producers of the latest installment, will work closely with the team in the development and production process.” On November 14, 2013, Paramount announced a release date of December 25, 2015. The same month, Simon Pegg confirmed he would reprise his role as Benji. In May 2014, Will Staples replaced Pearce as screenwriter. Also that month, Jeremy Renner confirmed he was returning in the role of William Brandt, and Cruise said the film would shoot in London, with a later report saying it would first shoot in Vienna in August. At some point, McQuarrie replaced Staples as screenwriter; the final credits list McQuarrie as screenwriter, with story by Pearce.

In July 2014, Rebecca Ferguson was cast and Alec Baldwin was in talks for the film. Baldwin was confirmed to have joined the cast in August 2014, and Ving Rhames was confirmed to be reprising his role of Luther Stickell for a fifth time. On September 5, it was announced that Sean Harris was in negotiations for the villain role. On October 2, Simon McBurney joined the cast of the film. On October 6, Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu joined the film’s cast (she only appears for 30 seconds in the finished film). On March 22, 2015, Paramount revealed the film’s official title, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, along with a teaser poster and trailer.

Guess What?… Another Stunt!

First he runs on top of an Airbus A400M’s wing, then this:

He didn’t do this once… he did it eight times and was filmed over a week in Cambridgeshire, U.K. WOW.

The filming took place in London, Vienna, Casablanca and Monaco. The film yet again had a $150m budget and was looking to top Ghost Protocol. The film was released on July 31st 2015. Rogue Nation grossed $195 million in the U.S. and worldwide it reached $682.3m, just $12.3m behind Ghost Protocol, making it the second-highest grossing film in the franchise. Deadline.com reported that the net gross of the film was $109m after all of the expenses and salaries added together.


Shortly after the release of Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise announced that there would be a sequel to Rogue Nation. Christopher McQuarrie would direct again, becoming the first Mission Impossible director to direct a film more than once. Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson and Jeremy Renner have signed on for the sequel. In August, pre-production halted due to a salary dispute between Cruise and Paramount. A month later, Cruise and Paramount agreed to a contract and the release of M I 6 would be in Spring 2018.




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