JJ Abrams first feature film as a director was Mission: Impossible: III back in 2006. After the film’s release there was a falling out between Tom Cruise and Paramount pictures, however more recently things have thawed and in the last year Cruise has been talking up a fourth entry in the franchise. Now it appears that JJ Abrams has been asked to produce MI:4.
Despite mostly positive reviews, MI:3 only earned $134M domestically, primarily blamed on bad press for Cruise during 2006. However, the film earned a ton of money overseas, bringing its global gross to close to $400M. In the summer that followed the release Paramount signed JJ Abrams to a five year production deal (which they recently extended), but they let Tom Cruise’s production deal with the studio lapse (and he went over to run United Artists).
Things seemed to be over for the Cruise/MI franchise, but last year Sumner Redstone seemed to have changed his mind on Cruise and voiced support for him to return to do a fourth MI picture. In March of this year Cruise said that he was working on the story for MI:4, and now it appears he wants JJ Abrams to get involved as well.
The current TV Guide print issue has the following news item:
The Next "Mission" The man behind Lost, Fringe, and the latest "Star Trek" smash is reteaming with Tom Cruise to resurrect superspy Ethan Hunt for a fourth installment of the popular franchise. "I am incredibly honored that Tom has invited me back as producer on "Mission Impossible 4," says JJ Abrams, who direct 2006’s "MI:3," but hasn’t yet committed to directing the fourth. "Tom and I have come up with a really cool idea we are pursuing." Send Ethan to the Lost island to find out what the hell’s going on. That mission is really impossible!
It isn’t entirely clear how far along or how real the MI:4 project is, but IMDB lists the project for 2012. From the looks of thing, the Star Trek seqel project (aka “Star Trek Something Something”) is further along as it already has a script deal in place, but MI:4 could be JJ’s project after that. Another question is what involvement if any would there be for Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. The former Alias writers co-wrote the MI:3 script with Abrams and would be a natural first choice for a sequel, but with Star Trek, Transformers and their many other projects, who knows if they can fit it in.