J.J. Abrams building a monopoly on the 2015 holiday movie schedule – Variety reports that Mission: Impossible 5, which he's producing, will open on Christmas Day, just a week after the Abrams-directed Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters on December 18th.
Not a whole lot is known about the new Mission: Impossible movie other than the definite return of Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. It's not clear yet whether his fellow agents from Ghost Protocol, played by Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg, will also be back. M:I5 was written by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) and will be directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher). Abrams has been involved with the franchise since directing and co-writing Mission: Impossible III in 2006, serving as a producer on 2011's Ghost Protocol.
As for Abrams' other big 2015 movie, the Star Wars director recently assumed co-writing duties with Lucasfilm vet, and Episode VII consultant Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, and helped on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The pair are taking over for original screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) though the reasons for the swap are still unclear.
With shooting scheduled to begin in spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios outside of London, open casting calls were recently held in the U.K. for two roles: Rachel, a funny, courageous, street-smart 17-year old who lost her parents as a child; and Thomas, smart, wry young adult who lacks a strong sense of himself after growing up without a father. For those who missed the open calls, you can still audition online.
Rumors continue to swirl about the big names who may appear in Episode VII – though we've decoded some of the biggest ones – while we also wait for official confirmation on whether cast members from the original trilogy would appear in the movie (Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, wouldn't spill the beans on a recent Tonight Show appearance).