"Mission: Impossible IV" (2011) Cruise is back onboard for this...

"Mission: Impossible IV" (2011) Cruise is back onboard for this franchise. In a possible sign of damage to his A-list status, he will no longer receive guaranteed profits from the "first dollar" cut of ticket sales, according to the Los Angeles Times. Still, Cruise's salary will amount to at least $20 million upfront. Hold the career eulogies - for now. Credit: Paramount Pictures

A fourth "Mission: Impossible" is in the works - there's no question Paramount intends to make another installment of the valuable franchise.

But will Tom Cruise be starring?

"We absolutely are excited about having him star in this movie," Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said Tuesday according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Nevertheless, Paramount also is monitoring the overseas performance of Cruise's latest film, "Knight and Day," to see whether the star retains his longtime hold over foreign audiences. If that film grosses less than $200 million overseas, some industry observers think Paramount will consider recasting the Ethan Hunt role.

Disappointing U.S. box office for "Knight," a 20th Century Fox release, has Hollywood wondering whether Cruise is still connecting with American audiences or whether the film's timing and marketing campaign were to blame. Such questions are the backdrop for Paramount's scrutiny of the box-office receipts overseas.

A former studio chief suggested Paramount might not face any downside in recasting the role in "M:I-4," at least not domestically.

" 'Mission: Impossible' is a brand," he said. "It didn't have anything to do with Tom Cruise in the beginning." And there is a precedent in the form of the Bond franchise for successfully recasting starring roles. Meanwhile, star power in general seems to be waning: Sony recently decided to reboot its lucrative "Spider-Man" franchise with little-known actor Andrew Garfield.

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