Competing spy franchises make the rounds at the British GP

Tom Cruise

Representatives of the Mission: Impossible and James Bond film franchises made the rounds at today’s British Grand Prix.

M:I’s star-producer Tom Cruise, 59, was present to root on eventual winner Lewis Hamilton. The F-1 telecast periodically cut to the Mercedes team where Cruise could be seen wearing a mask. The Express and the The Sun (among others) had accounts of Cruise’s day.

Also present was actress Naomie Harris, 44, who plays Moneypenny in the Bond films and acts as unofficial ambassador for the Bond films. The official 007 Twitter feed of Eon Productions took note.

M:I 7-8 director announces casting

Christopher McQuarrie, director of the last two Mission: Impossible movies, is active on social media. He used his Instagram account to announce some casting moves for the seventh and eighth movies in the spy film series.

McQuarrie said Cary Elwes, Mark Gatliss, Indira Varma, Charles Parnell, and Rob Delaney are in the cast of M:I 7 and 8. No details about their roles. The director included head shots. Delaney is wearing a military uniform.

Originally, the two movies were to be filmed back to back. But the Deadline website reported in February that production of M:I 8 has been pushed back while star Tom Cruise promotes Top Gun Maverick.

M:I 7’s theatrical window shortened

A stunt from Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Mission: Impossible 7 will go to the revamped Paramount Plus service after just 45 days of theatrical release, Variety reported. The traditional theatrical window has been 90 days.

The move covers other Paramount movies, according to Variety.

The development is yet another example of the crumbling of the traditional 90-day theatrical window between a movie’s debut and it becoming available in some form of home video.

AT&T’s Warner Bros. for its theatrical releases this year is making new movies available simultaneously in theaters and AT&T’s HBO Max. Other studios are trying to figure out how to deal with the tsunami of streaming that’s engulfing the movie business.

Here’s an excerpt from Variety’s story about Paramount:

Those films will debut exclusively in theaters as planned. However, the studio has newly shorten the amount of time they will play exclusively on the big screen. After 45 days, new Paramount theatrical films will debut on the streaming service Paramount Plus. As part of the arrangement, Paramount has adjusted its pay TV output deal with Epix in order to bolster movie offerings on the nascent streaming service. Along with new releases, Paramount Plus will offer a deep library of more than 2,500 films.

Epix is a premium channel owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio.

You shouldn’t read too much into this. MGM is in hock to the tune of almost $290 million for No Time to Die. MGM has its own hard decisions in the new era — all while the studio is up for sale.

Rather, you should view this news as yet another indicator of how the movie business is in turmoil generally.

M:I 7, 8 no longer shooting back-to-back, Deadline says

Tom Cruise hasn’t had such luck combatting COVID-19.

The seventh and eighth Mission: Impossible films are no longer filming back-to-back, the Deadline entertainment website reported.

M:I 7 has run into delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, M:I star-producer Tom Cruise has other duties.

“Sources said this is simply down to the shifting release calendar,” according to Deadline. Cruise “will now be needed on promotional duties by the studio for Top Gun: Maverick ahead of that film’s planned release on July 2, and will be out of action for a period. Once that film has rolled out – hopefully to packed cinemas in a post-Covid world – production on MI: 8 can begin, meaning the gap shouldn’t be too impactful.”

Over the weekend, the U.K. Sun tabloid reported that M:I 7 had been forced to cut short production in the Middle East for COVID-related reasons. Director Christopher McQuarrie appeared to dispute that in an Instagram post. “Now back to London for a few finishing touches. All aboard for our greatest challenge yet…” the director wrote.

Paramount’s original plan was to film two M:I films at once so they could be released a year apart. Marvel Studios did something similar with two Avengers movies released in 2018 and 2019. At one time, Bonds 24 and 25 were to do the same thing. But star Daniel Craig vetoed such a move. Bond 24 became SPECTRE. Bond 25, years later, is on hold as No Time to Die.

M:I 7 hit with setback, Sun says

Tom Cruise

Production of Mission: Impossible 7 was forced to end filming in the Middle East in a setback for the film, the U.K. tabloid Sun reported. The production has been trying to make a fall release date amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

An excerpt from the Sun:

Production staff demanded they were allowed to head back to the UK this weekend before hotel quarantine rules come into effect on Monday.

Studio bosses have now had to charter a private jet to bring them home because they were up in arms about not being able to return to their families.

A movie insider said: “The whole production has hit yet another issue and there have been revolts among the cast and crew.”

M:I 7, starring and produced by Tom Cruise, currently has a November release date. The disruption raises the possibility of a delay. No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, has an October release date.

An M:I 7 delay would eliminate direct competition between the two spy-fi productions. As things now stand, No Time to Die comes out Oct. 8 in the U.S. followed by M:I 7 six weeks later.

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.