As the search for a "Mission: Impossible IV" director intensifies, a surprising contender has emerged: Brad Bird.
Finding a director has been a top priority for star Tom Cruise, who reprises his role as secret agent Ethan Hunt and is producing with J.J. Abrams. Paramount set a May 27, 2011, release date for the movie and is eyeing a summer start. A tentpole of this magnitude needs a lot of prep time to iron out things such as massive set pieces and worldwide locations.
Cruise and Abrams have been meeting with helmers new and old, including "Zombieland" director Ruben Fleischer and Edgar Wright, who has "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" coming out this summer.
On the surface, Bird may seem a peculiar choice. The writer-director wrote and directed 1999's "The Iron Giant" and 2004's "The Incredibles" as well as 2007's "Ratatouille" (the latter two earned Oscars for best animated picture), but he has never helmed a live-action feature.
On the other hand, nabbing Bird would be inspired. He is praised for his storytelling skills and is known for his strengths in staging thrilling and intricate action set-pieces as well as fusing the action with large dollops of heart and emotion.
Bird has been itching to make his live-action debut for a while and has long been developing "1906," set around the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. That project is set up at Warners and is rumored to be stalled because of budgetary reasons.
Bird would not be the first Pixar-ite to jump into live action. Andrew Stanton, who directed "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E" is in London shooting "John Carter of Mars," a big-screen translation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs hero.
If Bird does end up directing "MI4," however, he would beat Stanton to the big-screen, as "Carter" has a 2012 release date.
The fourth installment of the moneymaking "Mission" franchise, based on the 1960s TV series, has been in the works for a while but gained traction in February when Cruise officially made it his next starring gig.
Plot details are being kept under a lid of secrecy, but Abrams worked on the story with scribes Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum, who have written the screenplay.
-Who would you pick to direct the flick?