Accepted: Mission: Impossible 7 is choosing to restart production this September, according to a Variety report. The promising news is said to have been originally confirmed on BBC Radio 4's Today program by the film's first assistant director, Tommy Gormley.
"We hope to restart in September. We hope to visit all the countries we planned to. We hope to do a big chunk of it back in the U.K. on the backlot and in the studio," Gormley reportedly said.
Simon Pegg, who plays computer maven Benji Dunn, backed up the claim to Variety, revealing that the plan is to start with exterior scenes. (Science shows that a person is less likely to catch the novel coronavirus in a wide, outdoor setting.)
"That feels fairly doable, and obviously, there will be precautions put in place," Pegg said, while also joking that fight sequences would have to be conducted "five feet apart."
"People that are involved in any close proximity stuff, it will have to be determined that they're safe to do that," Pegg continued. "I don't know what the testing situation is, how that works, or whether they'll be able to be tested regularly."
On BBC Radio 4, Gormley added that he firmly believes the project can wrap up by April or May of 2021 if it's able to kick off in September of this year. Right now, it's unclear whether M:I 7 is filming back to back with M:I 8, as per the original plan. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (Rogue Nation, Fallout) is returning to helm the next two installments of the hit spy-fi franchise. Due to the extended shutdown, both movies have had their theatrical debuts delayed.
Given the massive scope and globetrotting nature of the series, it'll be interesting to see how Paramount tackles the need for big crews and multiple exotic locations. The use of a backlot and soundstages should help on the latter front, as they won't require trips to different countries.
Countries that are opening back up for production are requiring films and TV shows to follow strict health protocols, most of which (like those set by New Zealand authorities) include quarantine upon arrival. Those necessary precautions may add an extra layer of planning for a project, like Mission: Impossible 7, that's shooting around the world and grappling with a protracted production schedule.
For all their convenience, however, enclosed spaces like soundstages present their own set of circumstances when planning for safety in stemming the spread of the coronavirus. There's certainly no easy solution here, but newly published guidelines on set safety from the film industries in the United States and the United Kingdom are a solid first step in the plan to get cameras rolling again.
"If we have the protocols in place and we break down all the procedures very carefully ... we will get it going again," Gormley said. "Some things are very challenging such as stunt scenes, crowd scenes, etc. but we can't do a Mission: Impossible movie and not have a fight scene or car scenes in it."
Mission: Impossible 7 was put on hold back in late February, just as it was about to kick off production in Venice, Italy (the first stop on what was supposed to be a lengthy European shoot). In late April, there was some debate over whether Italy would be scrapped as a filming hub or if that part of the story would simply be delayed until the fall, "when the virus may have subsided." Judging by Gormley's comments, it sounds like they've decided to go with the second option.
In all this time, there's been one major casting change as Esai Morales (Titans) replaced Nicholas Hoult (Dark Phoenix) as the movie's main antagonist.
Tom Cruise will reprise the role of Ethan Hunt, leading a band of familiar faces like Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa Faust), Vanessa Kirby (White Widow), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), and Henry Czerny (Eugene Kittridge). Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and Shea Whigham (Joker) are appearing in M:I 7 as brand-new characters.