Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (affectionately known as Ghotocol around the CinemaBlend offices) is off to a rip-roaring start. With 161 reviews filed, the sequel boasts a robust 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and has earned an estimated $26 million domestically since opening on IMAX screens on Dec. 16. Without giving away any spoilers, the end suggests that more stories easily could be told. Now we’re hearing they might be told sooner rather than later.

Sources at Skydance, one of the production companies behind Tom Cruise’s latest spy thriller, are telling Moviehole that Paramount’s eager to push ahead with a fifth Mission: Impossible feature, as well as a new top Gun. And they want to get them in the pipeline quickly.

Well, they’d kind of have to. As I mentioned in a few Ghotocol stories, the 49-year-old Cruise looks like a 30-year-old kid bouncing off the side of the Burj Khalifa and racing through a sandstorm in pursuit of nuclear codes. But how much longer can he wait to slip back into the role of Ethan Hunt? And while the franchise has done a decent job of slipping in Jeremy Renner as a possible substitute, I think Ghotocol re-establishes this as Cruise’s franchise, and I’m not sure a fifth Mission would do well with another actor playing a different spy. That would be like Die Hard without Bruce Willis (a franchise that, coincidentally, is racing the clock to get a fifth installment in before its lead files for AARP).

Now, who will direct? Could Bird become the first director in the franchise to return for a second adventure? Moviehole has quotes from Bird about possibly bringing Leonard Nimoy back into the M:I fold (he starred in 49 episodes of the original series), but all of this is tentative. I know that I’d certainly love to see Bird take another shot, as Ghotocol was so much fun. But these sequels tend to reflect the vision of their directors, and a fresh voice might be appreciated, as well.

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