By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 23, 2011 at 2:40PM
With "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" only going into wide release this Wednesday after kicking things off with an IMAX only bow on December 16th, it seems Paramount and Skydance Productions (one of the major financial backers of the film) are very happy with what they are seeing at the box office right now for the movie. The film is looking poised to take the holiday box office in North America and overseas, it's also doing gangbusters business. In Australia, the film powered its way to the top of the charts and in India, the film is already hauling in four times the earnings of "Mission: Impossible 3" (though that is likely also helped by the appearance of Anil Kapoor). All told, at the end of Christmas Day, 'Ghost' is looking to take between $120-130 million. Not bad.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, sequel talk is already underway. Moviehole reports that Paramount and Skydance are eager to get a fifth 'Mission' going, with both parties apparently "extremely happy" with how the movie is performing. “Skydance definitely wants to get going quickly on [Mission] 5. And a 'Top Gun' [sequel]” a source tells the site. They lynchpin in all this? David Ellison.
The Skydance honcho not only backed 'Ghost Protocol' but is also behind the much talked about "Top Gun 2" which got "X-Men: First Class" writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz on board to write this fall (perhaps to get the pieces in place should 'Ghost Protocol' turn into the hit they were hoping for). Of course, no one is official yet -- star Tom Cruise, or expected director Tony Scott -- but the chatter around the film suggests it has been a priority. Moreover, the success of 'Ghost Protocol' also confirms Cruise as a big star draw and that he may have left his couch-jumping years in the wild behind him.
But either project is a long way off at best. Cruise will be spending 2012 on two big projects, Joseph Kosinski's "Oblivion" in the first half and the second half dedicated to Doug Liman's "All You Need Is Kill." Should a fifth 'Mission' get going after that, it still leaves "Top Gun 2" in the far distant future. Still the talk isn't surprising and we'd guess if the box office continues to be strong for 'Ghost Protocol' these sequels will continue to be knocked around for a while. It also pretty much confirms that Ethan Hunt will continue to lead the franchise, with no need to hand off the reins to another agent (yet).
As for the question of director Brad Bird returning...we doubt it. One of the features of the 'Mission' franchise is that it has allowed Cruise to line up a new auteur with each effort to change up the game, and we presume they will continue to do that (and undoubtedly Bird has his own projects he'd like to get to as well). But for movie audiences, should they choose to accept it, 'Mission: Impossible' isn't going away anytime soon.