Tom Cruise landed $200M movie in space with script-free Zoom call

EXCLUSIVE: What did Universal Pictures execs require to commit to liftoff of the first-ever narrative feature film to shoot in outer space? According to sources, all it took was an exuberant Zoom call with Tom Cruise, director Doug Liman and Christopher McQuarrie. They pitched the picture with no script (Liman is writing it) and came away with a production commitment around $200 million.

Sources said that SpaceX’s Elon Musk will be a partner in the project and the expectation is that McQuarrie — Cruise’s writer/director on the “Mission: Impossible” films — will have a ground control role as story advisor and producer alongside Cruise and Liman.

The $200 million figure is an estimate, considering the project is still being scripted and the unprecedented logistics, but it costs more to make space-set blockbusters that never require breaking through the atmosphere. It seems a reasonable sum to make movie history for a movie studio in this pandemic moment when streamers are making all the noise.

Deadline revealed in early May that Cruise was working on the space-set action-adventure and that he was serious about doing it and that Musk was involved. Deadline broke later that month that Doug Liman would be making the trip with him, and the director who helmed the Cruise pics “American Made” and “Edge of Tomorrow,” then went to Florida to witness the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying two American astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center, a historic public-private partnership that put the U.S. back in the business of human spaceflight for the first time in a decade.

Cruise and McQuarrie are back shooting “Mission: Impossible Fallout” but this is looking more real by the minute. Don’t expect Cruise and Liman to lose their nerve. Both are pilots and their adventurous spirit shows in their filmmaking. As for Cruise, he is a meticulous planner, but fearless in doing his own stunts that have included hanging from a helicopter and the side of a jet plane during takeoff in “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.” In “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol” he scaled the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyscraper, and executed stunts 123 floors up.

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