Earlier in the summer, as Tom Cruise's action comedy "Knight and Day" struggled at the domestic box office, there was open speculation about whether Paramount would move forward with a fourth installment of the Cruise-starring "Mission: Impossible" franchise.
But "Knight and Day" has now passed the $220 million mark worldwide, thanks to hefty overseas business, and development on "M:I IV" is continuing apace. In the latest development, Deadline New York reports that Cruise and director Brad Bird are set to begin screen-testing actors this week to star opposite the A-lister.
Three of the candidates are reportedly Anthony Mackie ("The Hurt Locker"), Kevin Zegers ("Frozen") and Christopher Egan ("Letters to Juliet").
There remains ongoing speculation about the exact nature of Cruise's role in the flick. As far back as June 2009, The Hollywood Reporter dished that Cruise might hand the starring role over to a younger actor, or even to an ensemble, potentially setting up a new generation of "M:I" films. Might that be the role for which Mackie, Zegers and Egan are auditioning?
" 'Mission: Impossible' is a brand," an unnamed former studio chief told THR last year. "It didn't have anything to do with Tom Cruise in the beginning."
Regardless of which actors join the franchise, Cruise has been adamant about his commitment to new creative blood. "My whole thing with the series is always having a new director come on and put their stamp on 'Mission: Impossible,' " he told MTV News recently. "Brian De Palma was first, then John Woo, J.J. Abrams and now Brad Bird, so it will be Brad Bird's 'Mission: Impossible.' "
Check out everything we've got on "Mission: Impossible IV."
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