Have you heard? Supposedly, Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 will be Tom Cruise’s last outings as super-spy Ethan Hunt. In a report about how COVID has caused the budgets of these films, filming consecutively, to balloon out of control, it is also mentioned that M:I 7-8 are meant to be Cruise’s farewell to the franchise. His No Time To Die, if you will. There is a part of me that believes this, because there is a limit to how long you can be an action star before it wears down your body too much, not unlike being a professional athlete, and Cruise is pushing sixty. But there is another part of me that remembers when, nearly a decade ago, they set up Jeremy Renner to take over the M:I franchise and Cruise, instead, breathed new life into both the films and his performance as Hunt. So I sort of believe this, but I also sort of feel like—yeah right. Tom Cruise will do this sh-t forever, or until he actually dies doing a stunt, whichever comes first.
But back to Mission: Impossible’s budget woes for a moment. Mission: Impossible 7 is said to cost an eye-popping $290 million, and that is WITH tax incentives meant to keep costs down. For comparison, Mission: Impossible – Fallout cost $190 million. The difference is COVID, and the costs associated with seven shutdowns throughout production. There’s nothing for it, really, they went back to work when people were still figuring out on-set safety protocols, and we heard the lengths Cruise was willing to go to for a safe, ongoing production—which wasn’t manageable, anyway. These swelling expenses, though, have led Paramount to sue their insurer, Federal Insurance Company, claiming that they’re responsible for COVID-related costs, not the studio. Yeah…good luck with that.
Of course, their budget woes aren’t over. M:I 7 has been delayed (again) to July 14, 2023, which means whatever loans Paramount is carrying as part of their financing, will have interest accruing the whole time. $290 million is what it costs NOW, not what it will end up costing. It’s very likely this ends up being one of the most expensive movies ever made. And that’s not even factoring M:I 8, which is in production now, and also delayed (again) to June 28, 2024. There’s no telling what that movie’s budget will end up being, but hopefully it will experience less shutdowns and thus, less shutdown-related costs. Still, I bring this up because Paramount’s financial footing over the last decade or so has been sketchy, and you might want to keep an eye on one of the last legacy studios out there. Parent ViacomCBS came close to selling Paramount in 2016, and right now, the need for a library for Paramount+ makes Paramount seem secure enough, but if, say, Apple decided it wanted that catalog for Apple TV+, well. Different story.
As for Tom Cruise and his spy thriller swan song, what do we think an adequate send off looks like? Daniel Craig never made any secret of his desire to kill off James Bond, which then informed No Time To Die. But what does Tom Cruise want to do with Ethan Hunt? What does he think a fitting resolution for that character looks like? This character that he has dangled from cliffs and buildings and planes? I’m thinking self-sacrifice, obviously. But it won’t be enough to save the world. He’ll have to save the galaxy, at least, if not the whole universe. There’s really only one way for this to go: aliens. Ethan Hunt has to fight aliens. This is the way.
Live long and gossip,