Mission Impossible 4 Gets Revamped Again, Even More Convoluted

So what’s the deal with “Mission Impossible 4”? We already know that Paramount is very leery of spending too much on a movie whose star seems to have lost his box office mojo, so they’ve covered their bets in a couple of areas — one was getting Cruise to take a pay cut for the sequel, and the other was signing on Jeremy Renner to play Cruise’s new partner, a character that, conceivably, could carry on the franchise if Cruise becomes too, well, Cruise-y in the future.

And now Variety has an article on the sequel that makes the whole thing even more convoluted. Mind you, not that there’s anything complex or hard to understand here, it’s just very interesting how the suits are approaching this at the moment.

In short, Paramount is leaning towards ditching the “Mission Impossible” title altogether, and simply calling the film something else, minus the “Mission” or “Impossible” in the title. (The article likens it to what Warner did with Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”.)

Cruise would still play a character name Ethan Hunt, and presumably he would still be in the services of the IMF, but only now instead of a team of agents assisting him on his gigs, the movie would focus on him and Jeremy Renner’s character, who would get equal screentime. (Has someone told Simon Pegg this? Last I heard, he was very keen on reprising his “MI3” role in part four.) The idea, apparently, is to eventually spin Renner into the main lead, while pushing Cruise off into the background to play “mentor” to Renner’s character in subsequent sequels.

So yes, Paramount either still thinks they have no future with Tom Cruise, or they don’t want one with him. Though removing the “Mission Impossible” from the title is a curious move.

Whatever the studio ends up doing, “Mission Impossible 4”, or the movie formerly known as “Mission Impossible 4” is scheduled to blow up in theaters December 16, 2011. Brad Bird will direct from a script by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec.

'Um, guys, I don't know how to say this, but they might not bring you guys back. Sorry?'