Though overruled when it came to our fall preview last week -- too many other staff members have been burned by mediocre franchise installments in the past -- this writer is really kind of excited about "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," the fourth installment in the Tom Cruise-led spy franchise. J.J. Abrams, who got closest to getting it right with "Mission Impossible III" (which has great moments, but doesn't quite hang together), has returned to produce, there's an intriguing, eclectic cast, including Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Tom Wilkinson, Josh Holloway, Lea Seydoux, Michael Nyqvist and Anil Kapoor, and some of the best below-the-line talent around, including "There Will Be Blood" lenser Robert Elswit and composer Michael Giacchino.
More importantly, it also marks the live-action debut of Brad Bird, who's three for three on animated classics with "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille," and that alone is reason to be chomping at the bit for this one, even if we've been let down in the past by the series. The director just spoke to Hero Complex, and revealed that the film, which like "The Dark Knight," was partially shot on IMAX cameras, will be snuck out almost a week early on the large-screen format.
Bird tells the site that he misses the days of a movie opening being a genuine event, saying, "I feel like multiplexes and the shutting down of the grand old theaters have taken a lot of the showmanship out of presenting movies. There used to be a thing such as 'first run.' The meaning of 'first run' is gone now because on opening day you can see a brand new movie on a good screen but it’s more likely you’ll see it on a crappy screen. And it can even be a small, crappy screen. It used to be that when a movie opened, if you wanted to see it early, you had to see it great."
As such, the IMAX in the film, and its early release that way, is intended to help recapture that sense of grandeur. "To me, the best example of showmanship now is IMAX. I pushed to shoot in IMAX, and Paramount went along with me, so we filmed a good chunk of this movie in IMAX, which is a pain in the butt. The cameras are big and they’re noisy. But the image quality – you can’t get that any other way…you really feel it when it’s in IMAX."
Studio bosses weren't necessarily that keen on the idea, worried that an IMAX opening might limit the film's initial box-office numbers, Bird says. "We were able to get five days. Every studio likes to have bragging rights to the biggest opening numbers, and the problem is what that does is it perpetuates the approach of getting a zillion prints out there so your opening number is the biggest. But to me that is an intellectual thing. The average viewer doesn’t experience how much money is made on opening weekend. What they experience is their experience. I wanted the first people that see the film to see it big with a sharp image and great sound systems, so when they went out and talked about the movie they saw, we would know that they had seen it at its best."
We have to say, we kind of like this idea (Paramount tried something similar with "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" in the summer, but only opened it a day earlier), although whether Bird is able to maintain that level of excitement and showmanship for a film that's a third sequel to a tarnished franchise remains to be seen. But we'll certainly be looking to head to our local IMAX screen early.
And, as a reminder of the effect that IMAX can have, starting tomorrow (according to IGN), AMC Theaters are re-releasing arguably three of the best films to have used the format -- "Inception," "Star Trek" and this summer's "Fast Five" (we know we're late to the party with that, but this writer caught up with it last weekend, and had a blast) -- as part of what they call 'IMAX Big Movie Week,' where each film will be able to be seen for only $7. None were shot natively in IMAX, but there's plenty of spectacle between them, so if "Dream House" isn't floating your boat this weekend, it might be worth checking out.