Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures will move Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol from its Dec. 16, 2011 release date to Wednesday, Dec. 21, putting the picture smack into the holiday corridor. That moves the film back from opening against Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel. It will now open against the David Fincher-directed Sony drama The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and be released two days before Paramount’s The Adventures of Tintin, Summit’s The Darkest Hour, Fox’s We Bought A Zoo, and FilmDistrict’s release of the Angelina Jolie-directed In The Land Of Blood And Honey.

At the same time, Paramount will soon formalize a Feb. 8, 2013 release date for One Shot, the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation of the Lee Child mystery novel series that the studio hopes will launch another Cruise franchise. Cruise committed earlier this month to play Jack Reacher, a retired military policeman who wanders the country with his toothbrush, the clothes on his back and his bankbook and inadvertently gets involved in conspiracies that find him taking the side of the powerless and exploited. He often settles matters with explosive violence. For Paramount, the strategy is to replicate the winter release pattern it followed successfully on Shutter Island, the Dennis Lehane novel that was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Leonardo DiCaprio.

I’m told that Paramount is bullish on the fourth Mission: Impossible installment, which Cruise produced with JJ Abrams. He reprises his role as Ethan Hunt for director Brad Bird, with Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Anil Kapoor, Michael Nyqvist and Tom Wilkinson also starring.

Skydance Productions co-financed and produced both Cruise pictures.