CinemaCon 2018: Tom Cruise jumped out of a plane 106 times for Mission: Impossible stunt

Mission: Impossible - Fallout Poster #1

No matter what you think of the man, Tom Cruise gives it his absolute all for Mission: Impossible. For Ghost Protocol, he climbed atop the tallest building in Dubai. For Rogue Nation, he held onto the side of a plane as it took off. At this year’s CinemaCon presentation, Paramount dedicated the last half hour of the presentation to Mission: Impossible – Fallout. However, half of that time had Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie breaking down one of the insane stunts in the film. There are obvious spoilers ahead so please stop reading if you’re sensitive to that.

The scene is a skydiving stunt where Ethan Hunt and August Walker (Henry Cavill) are doing a HALO jump over Paris. The scene starts off with Walker pulling the oxygen tube off of Ethan’s mask. Afterward, Ethan is scrambling to put his oxygen mask on as Walker jumps out of the plane. Once he makes the jump, both Ethan and August dive towards a thunderstorm and lightning strikes the both of them.

Surprisingly, Ethan spiraling out of control but is okay. Unfortunately, August is now missing. Ethan spins all over the sky and finally finds him. The only problem is he’s falling in an unconscious state. Ethan dives towards his body and sees damage on August’s oxygen tube. He takes out his tube and gives it to August. Finally, Ethan pulls on August’s ripcord and his as well.

Now, as basic as that stunt may seem, the process of making it is quite an eye-opening experience. First, an animatic was made to find out “how much is physically possible without killing Tom.” The film was also filmed at the United Arab Emirates instead of Paris, France.

Next, custom oxygen masks and rigging equipment were made for this one sequence alone. The clear masks were made to show Cruise’s face as he’s doing the jump. But because this is a sunrise shot, lights were also put inside to light up his face. The only problem is, should the lights or the wires ever spark, the sparks would ignite the oxygen and set Cruise’s face on fire.

The other technical challenge is the filming aspect of the stunt. Basically, a skydiver has a camera atop his helmet and must walk backward as he’s jumping out of the plane. But the fact that the skydiver is able to film this with a huge camera on his head while going 220 MPH is just remarkable. Not to mention, he must film Cruise instinctually. The camera operator can’t see what he’s filming so he must rely on instincts and rehearsals in order to film it correctly. And he must do it while crouching slightly because the camera must be eye-level to Cruise’s face.

On top of that, Cruise must stay within 3 inches of the camera as he’s diving out of the plane. Any further or closer than the 3-inch threshold and he will put himself out of focus. It’s just one of the many limitations of filming a scene in low light. Speaking of low light, the crew only had 3 minutes of the sunset before the sun fully rises. Fortunately, it only takes Tom Cruise 2 minutes before he hits the ground.

The crowd got to see this in action as they got to see raw footage as well. You can distinctly hear Cruise breathing heavily and straining himself while doing this stunt. In addition, we got to see behind-the-scenes footage of the camera operator in action as well. It’s crazy to watch because it’s a complex stunt that looked extremely easy.

So how many times did Tom Cruise have to jump out of a plane for this sequence? A whopping 106 times for 3 different takes. It’s truly amazing what Tom Cruise does for the love of entertainment.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout hits theaters on July 21st.

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