Ethan Hunt has little more than a year and a half to figure out how to turn the impossible into a possibility, as Paramount Pictures has announced that "Mission: Impossible IV" will hit theaters nationwide December 16, 2011, just in time for Christmas.

The upcoming fourth installment in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise will be directed by "Incredibles" and "Iron Giant" director Brad Bird, the filmmaker's first time in the captain's chair for a live-action feature film. Screenwriters Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec wrote the script based on an original idea from star Tom Cruise and producer J.J. Abrams. Abrams previously helmed the series' third outing in 2006, which marked his debut as a movie director.

Cruise returns for "Mission Impossible 4" as superspy Ethan Hunt, a highly trained and integral member of the Impossible Mission Force. Over the course of three films, Hunt has contended with surprising traitors, deadly viruses and curiously named weapons of mass destruction. Plot details for the fourth film are currently under wraps.

At the moment, Cruise is the only confirmed castmember of "Mission: Impossible IV," though he has been joined by Ving Rhames as longtime friend and computer expert Luther Stickell in all three of the series' previous installments.

In addition to the fourth "Mission: Impossible," Paramount is setting an unspecified summer 2011 release date for "Super 8," Abrams' recently revealed mystery project. He'll direct the film with Steven Spielberg producing through Amblin Entertainment. The first "Super 8" footage is set to debut in a teaser trailer accompanying showings of "Iron Man 2," opening in theaters this weekend.

Are you excited for a fourth installment of "Mission: Impossible"? Let us know in the comments!

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

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