‘Mission: Impossible 3′ Back On Track, Set For 2006 Debut

Sequel had been in question over budget concerns.

A year after it was originally set to premiere, “Mission: Impossible 3″ is finally getting the go ahead. The third installment of the popular Tom Cruise series was slated for release in May of 2004, but budget issues pushed it back, and then the sequel was put on ice when director Joe Carnahan (“Narc”) quit.

But now the movie is back on track and set to open on May 5, 2006, according to Cruise’s production company. Principal photography is scheduled to begin on July 18 in Italy, and the feature will be filmed in locations across the U.S., Europe and Asia under the guidance of director J.J. Abrams (“Alias”).

“This has been a great franchise for Paramount Pictures and fantastic entertainment for moviegoers around the world,” Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be embarking on this exciting third ‘Mission’ with the amazing talents of Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams, and the whole ‘M:I 3′ team.”

The third go-round of the big-screen adaptation of the 1960s TV spy tale will again star Cruise as Special Agent Ethan Hunt alongside Ving Rhames, with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Michelle Monaghan and Philip Seymour Hoffman joining the cast this time around. Together, the first two films have grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide. The latest film is budgeted at more than $150 million, Variety reports.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the future of the sequel had been in question lately due to budget concerns over Cruise’s huge payday — Variety reports that he took home almost $70 million for “MI:2″ — and the negative press over the star’s increasingly bizarre behavior and wild declarations of love for his new girlfriend, Katie Holmes (see “MTV News Exclusive: Tom Cruise Gets Deep About Katie” ).

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