Jan 26, 2015

Tradecraft: Cruise's Next Mission Moved Up

The fuse has been lit early! Usually when tentpoles are dramatically shifted into another season, it's a move backwards. (See: Warner Bros.' The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which has been pushed back twice now.) But today Deadline reports that Paramount is shifting Mission: Impossible 5 up from its previously announced December berth to July 31. Yes, that's this July 31... 2015! So spy fans will get to see the movie sooner than expected. And in terms of genre competition, Ethan Hunt is retreating from James Bond's crosshairs (SPECTRE opens in November and will likely still be in theaters come Christmas) and setting the more vlunerable Napoleon Solo squarely in his own. (U.N.C.L.E. is currently slated for August.) The spacing is good and there's more than enough room for all these spy franchises to coexist... but it's still considerably safer to be the first of the biggies out of the gate than the last, since it's possible the public may burn out a little on the genre after a whopping fifteen spy movies have opened from January to December. (I hope not! And Bond, being practically a genre unto himself, seems pretty safe from such a scenario.) The most surprising thing bout seeing a major action movie shift up by five months is that post-production on these big would-be blockbusters tends to take a long time. But the movie obviously indicates that the studio is confident director Christopher McQuarrie will have all his effects shots finished in time. (This also strengthens the Mission: Impossible series' boasts about relying on practical effects and real stuntwork over time-consuming CGI.) The move means that Paramount's publicity team will have to leap into action, Tom Cruise-style, to build awareness faster than thought. It likely means we'll be seeing a poster and even a teaser trailer quite soon. (Could they even whip up something in time for next week's Super Bowl?) Assuming the effects are in good shape and the marketing folks are up to the challenge, the move makes a lot of sense for Paramount. Currently, the trade points out, the only competition in the weekend of July 31 is Warner Bros.' Point Break remake, Focus Features' sci-fi thriller Self/Less and The Weinstein Company’s Jake Gyllenhaal boxing drama Southpaw, none of which are likely to pose too big a threat to the venerable Mission juggernaut. The move kind of sucks for Point Break, though, since Cruise & Co. will probably poach the very audience its aiming for. I wouldn't be surprised to see it shuffled. The question for spy fans, of course, is what will that mean for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. if Warner Bros. starts shuffling its tentpoles again? If they'd already begun their publicity campaign, it would make sense for the studio to move it up if there's an available frame earlier in the year, but since they haven't it would be more likely to shuffle backwards... yet again. I really hope that doesn't happen.

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