'Mission: Impossible IV' Still Moving Forward With Tom Cruise

Paramount is 'excited' about star, despite the underwhelming performance of 'Knight and Day.'

Paramount and Tom Cruise chose to accept another "Mission: Impossible" in February, and despite a slew of questions surrounding the project, both the studio and its leading man remain committed to one another.

"We absolutely are excited about having Tom Cruise star in this movie," Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore told The Hollywood Reporter.

Yet the fact that Paramount even had to go on record in support of Cruise highlights the issues surrounding "Mission: Impossible IV" four years after the last installment in the franchise. (Paramount and MTV are both owned by Viacom.)

Last month, Cruise's action comedy, "Knight and Day," opened to an underwhelming $20.1 million box office haul, and Paramount is reportedly keeping a watchful eye on the overseas numbers to see if the actor can sustain his appeal to foreign audiences.

"It all depends on whether Tom Cruise brings in foreign bucks," an executive not involved with the film told THR.

For the moment, preproduction on "M:I 4" continues. Brad Bird ("The Incredibles") is reportedly onboard to direct, with J.J. Abrams producing, and Paramount is said to be expecting a final script within weeks. Shooting would reportedly begin by the end of the year with a theatrical release planned during 2011's holiday season. The studio is targeting a budget of around $140 million, significantly less than the $165 million budget of "M:I 3," and Cruise is not expected to receive a $20 million payday, as he had not long ago.

"Everybody will do their best to make it work," said a Cruise rep about the star's "M:I 4" payday.

And then there's the ongoing talk about just what Cruise's role in the movie will be. There is a long-standing rumor that his Ethan Hunt character might not even be the face of the franchise for the new film, but that he'd hand off the reigns to a younger actor or even an ensemble.

" 'Mission: Impossible' is a brand," an unnamed former studio chief said. "It didn't have anything to do with Tom Cruise in the beginning."

Do you think Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt should be the main character in "M:I 4"? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Check out everything we've got on "Mission: Impossible IV."

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