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Tom Cruise signs on for fifth 'Mission: Impossible'

Tom Cruise has signed on to reprise his role as the world-beating IMF agent Ethan Hunt in a fifth "Mission: Impossible" movie, the Los Angeles Times reports. Cruise will also produce the new sequel, developing the project with the Bad Robot arm of "Star Trek: Into Darkness" director-producer J.J. Abrams.

Christopher McQuarrie -- who directed last year's Cruise-starring action adventure "Jack Reacher" and wrote his 2008 Nazi thriller "Valkyrie" -- is reportedly the leading contender to direct.

McQuarrie would follow in an illustrious line of "Mission: Impossible" directors: Brian DePalma (responsible for 1996's movie adaptation of the '60s TV series), John Woo ("M:I 2"), Abrams ("M:I 3") and animation ace Brad Bird ("Ghost Protocol").

"Ghost Protocol" took in more $700 million at the box office in 2011 -- a personal best for Cruise, long one of moviedom's most bankable stars, as well as a financial high-water mark for the franchise. "M:I" films have made more than $2 billion globally, ranking them among Hollywood's most successful movie series.

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