Tom Cruise delays ''M:I3'' to fight Martians. He'll shoot Spielberg's ''War of the Worlds'' next, with the troubled ''Mission'' due to film next summer

By Gary Susman
August 12, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Tom Cruise: Matt Sayles/AP

Tom Cruise’s next mission may not be impossible, just very difficult. According to trade reports, he’s finally hired a director for ”Mission: Impossible 3,” but the shoot, scheduled for this summer, has been put off for another year. Instead, he’ll move forward with his planned ”War of the Worlds” remake, to be directed by Steven Spielberg, who also has a sudden opening in his dance card.

Cruise and his ”Minority Report” director will reteam in November to shoot the Martian-invasion tale, an update of the H.G. Wells classic set in the present day. Spielberg is free after having decided his upcoming movie about the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics needs a rewrite. He’s hired ”Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner to revise the draft submitted by ”Forrest Gump” screenwriter Eric Roth. As a result, the drama, which will star ”Troy”’s Eric Bana, will shoot next June instead of this fall.

At least Cruise has finally found a director for ”M:I 3,” after helmers including ”Fight Club”’s David Fincher and ”Narc”’s Joe Carnahan dropped out of the project. It was rumored that Cruise had picked J.J. Abrams, who knows from plot-twisty spy thrillers as the creator of TV’s ”Alias” but who has never directed a feature film before. In any case, Abrams wasn’t available, as he’ll be overseeing ABC’s new drama ”Lost” this season. But with the ”M:I 3” shoot pushed back to next summer, Abrams will be free then and has been hired to direct.