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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth film in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, is a huge gamble. Not only is Tom Cruise a risk in regards to bankability, but five years have passed since Mission: Impossible III. Now, a change in the release date of the film could prove to be another big risk.
We’ve known for a while that the film will play in IMAX as well as traditional theaters; 25 minutes of "Ghost Protocol" (including some of the action sequences) were shot using IMAX technology. However, The Los Angeles Times reports that over 200 IMAX locations across the United States will receive the film on Dec. 16, five days before its wide release on Dec. 21.
Director Brad Bird told the times that he wanted to bring "showmanship" back to the movies through IMAX and recreate the concept of "first run," or like back in the day, when you people wanted to see a movie when it first came out they would have to see it in the largest theater and with a huge crowd — experience it at its biggest. Bird had to negotiate with Paramount to earn the five-day IMAX release. He explained it as this:
"The average viewer doesn’t experience how much money is made on opening weekend. What they experience is their experience. I wanted the first people that see the film to see it big with a sharp image and great sound systems, so when they went out and talked about the movie they saw, we would know that they had seen it at its best."
This might seem like an odd move, but recall that J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 played in select theaters (albeit not IMAX) one day before its release to build up hype for the film. That film eventually crossed $125 million domestic, and that’s without any A-listers in the cast or much knowledge about the plot. It’s still a risky experiment shrinking the opening weekend total, but if "Ghost Protocol" can exceed its middling expectations by building buzz in IMAX theaters, then this move might pay off in staying power. If it works, don't be surprised if studios take note.