Paramount Pictures made major announcements this afternoon related to two J.J. Abrams projects: Abrams-produced Mission: Impossible IV has moved from Memorial Day Weekend 2011 to Dec. 16, 2011, while top-secret project Super 8 was revealed to be both written and directed by Abrams. Paramount did not announce a specific date for Super 8, instead scheduling it for Summer 2011.
Recent reports that a trailer for Super 8 is attached to prints of Iron Man 2 have led to increased interest in Abrams project. Many expected it to be a follow-up to 2008's Cloverfield, which Abrams produced but did not write or direct, though Abrams himself has since shot down those rumors. Cloverfield, which was also shrouded in secrecy for much of its production, opened to $40.1 million in January 2008, and currently holds the opening weekend record for that month. The movie ran out of gas quickly, though, closing at just over $80 million.
Super 8 will be the first movie Abrams has directed since last year's Star Trek reboot ($257.7 million), and the first movie he's written since Mission: Impossible III. While no cast details or plot information are currently available, it was announced that Steven Spielberg will be participating as a producer.
Mission: Impossible IV finds Tom Cruise taking on the role of IMF super agent Ethan Hunt for the fourth time. Based off the popular 1960's television series, the Mission: Impossible movie series began in May 1996 with Mission: Impossible, which grossed $180.9 million, or the equivalent of around $325 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. Mission: Impossible II built on the success of part one, banking $215.4 million four years later. Despite the strong box office returns from the first two entries, it took a full six years for part three to hit theaters, and Abrams-directed Mission: Impossible III earned a comparatively meager $134 million. Still, the series as a whole has grossed just over $1.4 billion worldwide, making it one of the more successful international brands.
Nothing is known about Mission: Impossible IV's plot at this time, nor has a director been selected. Mission: Impossible IV is the first movie in the series to open outside of May, and it's currently scheduled to face off against Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D on Dec. 16.