Mission: Impossible 4 is headed for the big screen, and Ethan Hunt is coming along, too. Deadline Hollywood is reporting this afternoon that Tom Cruise has signed a deal with Paramount Pictures to reprise his role in the fourth installment of the franchise. He will also co-produce with Mission: Impossible 3 director J.J. Abrams.

While there is no director attached, the producing team does have Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec attached to work on the script. Both Applebaum and Nemec are coming off work on the unfortunately short-lived ABC show Life on Mars (which was actually quite good) and the upcoming ABC show Happy Town. They’ve been working on the script since last fall.

The significance of today’s news is that Cruise will star, meaning that he’s confident enough in the progress of the script to attach his name not just as producer, but as star. Now he, Abrams and team will gear up a fourth film for a Memorial Day 2011 release, so expect a director announcement shortly. This is good news for Mission: Impossible fans, as Abrams and Cruise all but resurrected the franchise after the hyper-stylized mess that was John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2. Perhaps they will bring on a young director with a lot of promise — we’ll see.

Who would you like to see direct a fourth Mission: Impossible film?

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