Tom Cruise exposes an entertainment fault line

Tom Cruise, who probably not smiling when he yelled at the MI:7 crew

This week, the U.K. tabloid The Sun came out with a story about how Mission: Impossible 7 star-producer Tom Cruise yelled at crew members concerning how they didn’t take proper precautions for COVID-19.

Cruise’s language (including “motherfuckers”) got most of the attention. But Cruise’s other comments probably were more far-reaching.

Hollywood, Cruise said, is “making movies right now because of us,” the actor said. “I’m on the phone with every fucking studio at night, insurance companies, producers, and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies.”

Mission: Impossible 7, being made back-to-back with Mission: Impossible 8, is one of the biggest movie projects being filmed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. M:I 7 already has had COVID delays.

Millions of dollars are stake. Also, the movie industry is in flux because of streaming services. Warner Bros., now owned by AT&T, is going all in on streaming. Warner Bros. entire 2021 film slate will debut in the U.S. on HBO Max while also showing on theaters.

As a result, M:I 7 has even more riding on its shoulders.

“Do you understand the responsibility that you have?” Cruise told crew members, according to a recording of Cruise obtained by The Sun. “Because I will deal with your reason. And if you can’t be reasonable and I can’t deal with your logic, you’re fired.”

M:I 7 isn’t the only major movie project affected by COVID-19. The Batman incurred delays after its star, Robert Pattinson, came down with the virus.

Still, Cruise as a star-producer, has gravitas on the subject. He’s the closest thing to an old-time movie star in the 21st century. At 58, his days as a leading man may be running out. His M:I film series has been underway since 1996.

What’s more, COVID-19 continues to ravage many regions around the globe. Many people don’t believe the virus is real, or isn’t that serious. It’s probably not what Cruise intended. But his sharply worded comments go beyond the entertainment world.

UPDATE (Dec. 17): The Sun is out with another story saying that five crew members quit Mission: Impossible 7 after Cruise yelled at the crew about the need to meet COVID-19 safety procedures.

Pluto TV starts a Mission: Impossible channel

Pluto TV, a free streaming service (with commercials) started a Mission: Impossible channel today. At 1 p.m. Eastern time, the channel streamed the pilot for the 1966-73 series.

The pilot was written by series creator Bruce Geller. His script won an Emmy. Team leader Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) comes up with a plot to steal two nuclear warheads from a Caribbean nation unfriendly to the United States.

At first glance, it was hard to tell how many M:I episodes Pluto TV will televise.

Regardless, it’s another chance for spy fans to sample to the original show that begat the Tom Cruise film series that has been in production (on and off) since 1996.

UPDATE: Pluto TV appears to be showing the episodes in broadcast order. The second episode was “Memory,” same as the first-season broadcast order.

Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) initially goes in the discard pile when Briggs selects his team. The guest agent is Baresh, played by Albert Paulsen, who normally played villains (and would so in later M:I episodes). But Rollin provides an assist later in the story.

Also, Bruce Geller’s photo (wearing sinister looking sunglasses) also goes in the discard pile.

Daily Mail’s Baz says November NTTD release is a must

One of the many No Time to Die posters

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who once upon a time scored James Bond film scoops proven correct, is now saying that No Time to Die’s scheduled November release date is a must.

Here’s the key excerpt:

Hundreds of millions of pounds are riding on No Time To Die.

‘Bond will release this November or we’re as good as finished with distribution into cinemas for the forseeable future,’ a rival studio executive said to me, in a Zoom call.

This excerpt is part of a Baz love letter to Mission: Impossible film series Tom Cruise.

Bamigboye’s story also was published amid a mixed box office for the Christopher Nolan-directed Tenet. That movie was allegedly going to say global movie box office. But things haven’t worked out that way.

Other major films, including Wonder Woman 1984, have vacated the fall schedule. For now, No Time to Die — scheduled to be released in early November in the U.K. and Nov. 20 in the U.S. is the biggest movie coming out for the fall season despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Query: Is this serious reporting? Or is it another example of the British press’ pattern of complimenting the Bond movie series? British fans of the Bond film series love to dump on the Daily Mail.

As usual, we’ll see.

Mixed tea leaves for No Time to Die

New No Time to Die poster

Let’s face it. James Bond film fans are anxious. They want to know if No Time to Die will make its current November release date.

The tea leaves are a bit mixed.

Good news! Tenet is moving full speed ahead!

Director Christopher Nolan’s new spy-fi/sci-fi film is rolling out in various markets.

Tenet is billed as the movie that can save movie theaters amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Famously, Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise made a point of letting everybody know he was watching Tenet in a theater.

So if Tenet can do it, can’t No Time to Die?

Bad news! The King’s Man has been delayed to early 2021

The King’s Man, the prequel to the first two Kingsman films, which was delayed once already, now won’t be out until February 2021.

The prequel stars Ralph Fiennes, who played M at the end of Skyfall and in SPECTRE and No Time to Die. It tells the story of the earliest days of the Kingsman organization.

The delay for The King’s Man shows not all studios are enthusiastic about releasing a movie in the fall of 2020.

As usual, we’ll see.

Zimmer associate Balfe to score M:I 7-8

Tom Cruise

Lorne Balfe, one of Hans Zimmer’s group of Remote Control composers, will score Mission: Impossible 7 and 8, Film Music Reporter said.

The website cited the newest episode of the Light the Fuse podcast.

Balfe scored 2018’s Mission: Impossible-Fallout, the most recent M:I film starring and produced by Tom Cruise.

Balfe is one of more than 60 composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control company.

Another Remote Control composer is Steve Mazzaaro, who scored the non-Bond spy film The Rhythm Section produced by Eon Productions. On The Rhythm Section, Zimmer got the lead music credit for producing the music while Mazzaro had the secondary credit position for actually writing the music.

Mazzaro is assistant composer on No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film where Zimmer is lead composer.

Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 get pushed back

Tom Cruise

The release dates of Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 have been pushed back because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Variety reported.

The seventh installment of the film series with Tom Cruise is now scheduled for Nov. 19, 2021, delayed from July 23. The eighth movie in the series is now slated for Nov. 4, 2022, delayed from Aug. 5 of that year.

The new dates were announced by Paramount, one in a series of release date changes disclosed by the studio, Variety said.

The coronavirus has shut down movie theaters and other businesses in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease. Various films have been affected, including No Time to Die, which is now set for a November release. It had been set to come out this month.

M:I 7 had been slated to be filming in Venice in February. Italy was hit hard by COVID-19 and filming was postponed.

Christopher McQuarrie, director of Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossible-Fallout is directing M:I 7 and 8.

M:I 7 Venice shoot delayed by coronavirus

A stunt from Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Updated to note the Paramount statement.

Mission: Impossible 7’s Venice shoot is being delayed by the coronavirus, Variety reported, citing a Paramount statement.

The delay was reported earlier by the tabloid Daily Mail said.

Paramount said it was delaying the Venice shoot because of an “abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our cast and crew,” according to Variety.

There has been an outbreak of more than150 cases of coronavirus in Italy and the Venice carnival was cut short, according to The New York Times.

Star-producer Tom Cruise arrived in Venice last week and was scheduled to begin filming, the Daily Mail said.

M:I 7 is scheduled to be released in 2021. It is to be filmed back-to-back with an eighth installment coming out in 2022. Recent Cruise M:I movies were written around locations and stunts.

The most recent M:I film, Mission: Impossible-Fallout, was a hectic affair, which included Cruise breaking his ankle doing a stunt. The production altered its schedule and some late filming occurred to make a summer 2018 release date.

An outbreak of coronavirus in China has caused a China premiere and publicity tour for No Time to Die in April to be canceled. The disease has shut down theaters in China.

McQuarrie discusses chaotic M:I story process

A stunt from Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie talked about the chaotic story process underway for Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 in an interview on the 400th episode of the Empire Film Podcast.

McQuarrie said filming will begin soon, without providing a precise date. The two movies will be filmed back to back for release in 2021 and 2022.

The M:I films are written around stunts and locations. McQuarrie described the story process as coming up with 20-minute segments. According to the director, he recently moved around two segments from M:I 7 to M:I 8.

“I’m not kidding, a week ago…I realized we had too many 20-minute segments in our movie,” he said. “Suddenly, two 20-minute chunks came out of the movie and moved into the next movie — which I haven’t even started thinking about yet.

“That immediately defined what the end of the first movie was,” he added. “People have been asking me are these two movies connected, is it one movie, does it end on a cliffhanger? I don’t know.”

In fact, McQuarrie said he still hasn’t figured out the name of the character that actress Hayley Atwell will play in the films.

The director said star Tom Cruise won’t go into space in the two new movies.

“If I don’t button that up, I’ll be answering questions about it for the rest of my life,” he said. “He’s not going to space, nor does he need to go to space. We figured out three obscene things that he’s doing that I’m terrified of.”

McQuarrie, 51, wrote and directed Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

Cruise, who turns 58 in July, is in training for the M:I films.

To listen to the podcast, CLICK HERE. The McQuarrie interview starts just past the 2-hour mark.

RE-POST: Why Bond 25 didn’t economize

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Updated from an April 3 post.

NEW INTRODUCTION: This past week, The Hollywood Reporter had a feature story about No Time to Die cast members Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas that had a passing reference that the film’s budget was $250 million.

On Nov. 9, the Daily Mail had a story with a passing reference that the budget was 200 million British pounds ($257 million or so, depending on the conversion rate).

Regular readers of this blog were probably not surprised. In April, the blog had a post about why it was not likely the 25th James Bond film didn’t do much economizing.

Since that post was published, it became public knowledge that writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge also worked on the movie’s script. Her reported fee (via The Hollywood Reporter) was $2 million. Thus, there’s even more evidence that spending on the movie continued on the high side.

Over the past few days, other outlets have picked up on the $250 million budget figure for No Time to Die. SPECTRE had a $245 million figure (after tax breaks, product placement and other incentives were factored in).

What follows in the text of the blog’s original post on the subject.

ORIGINAL APRIL POST: Bond 25 production got underway last week with some filming in Norway. There’s a lot we don’t know (including a title). But there are some signs that the film isn’t traveling in Economy Class.

Delays in production: Eon Productions began renting space at Pinewood Studios last year. But filming there has been delayed at least five months.

Eon couldn’t just give up that space. Demand for space at Pinewood is high. So that’s a few months without any footage actually being shot. That makes it harder to economize.

An expensive script doctor: Scott Z. Burns recently spent four weeks working on Bond 25’s script. He’s a well-regarded scribe and he’s moving into directing. His services are in demand. It’s likely his Bond 25 services didn’t come cheap. (UPDATE: Burns’s involvement was confirmed in late April at the “reveal” event in Jamaica.)

The star may have gotten a raise: Variety last year reported that Daniel Craig will receive $25 million for his fifth 007 film. The truth is known to Craig, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, Craig’s agent and the various studios backing Bond 25. Still, it’s unlikely Craig’s services are receiving discounted rates.

The Mission: Impossible franchise means now isn’t the time to economize: This is a favorite fan theory/speculation. During the 2010s, the Mission: Impossible films starring and produced by Tom Cruise have cranked out three entries while Eon’s 007 series will have two.

Moreover, the M:I films have gotten a lot of attention for their stunts, big set pieces and international intrigue — things the 007 films are known for.

Paramount recently announced the Cruise M:I series will produce two more entries back-to-back, coming out in 2021 and 2022. By the time the latter entry is out, Cruise will be 60 and Christopher McQuarrie will have written and directed four films.

M:I 7-8’s social media campaign is underway

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

Mission: Impossible 7 won’t be out until July 23, 2021 and M:I 8 isn’t due out until Aug. 5, 2022. But the social media campaign already is underway, thanks to director Christopher McQuarrie.

Earlier this month, McQuarrie used an Instagram post to tease how actress Hayley Atwell will be in the two movies.

The director’s post was a bit vague. It had a photo of Atwell on top of an Impossible Missions Force holder. “Should you choose to accept…,” he wrote.

The post evoked the 1966-73 television series, where either Dan Briggs or Jim Phelps looked at operative photos while selecting those who would participate in a mission.

In any case, entertainment outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter jumped on McQuarrie’s post and did stories.

Atwell later did her own Instagram post to make clear she’s in both M:I 7 and MI: 8.

” I’m thrilled to have joined @tomcruise and @christophermcquarrie for the next TWO Mission Impossible movies,” she wrote. “To have gone from a classical play in the west-end to an audio book recording of a great new novel to a Disney/Marvel animation and now the female lead in a huge action franchise is the kind of variety that fuels my curiosity and keeps me learning and striving to be better and do better.”

McQuarrie, though, wasn’t done. Today, he posted a glimpse of new M:I story boards on both Twitter and Instagram.

All of this shows how marketing of movies has changed with social media. Projects try to attract and maintain attention long before films come out. It will be interesting see what happens when filming actually starts.

Here’s a look at McQuarrie’s tweet from today.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js