Universal Circling Tom Cruise-Doug Liman Film to Shoot in Space (EXCLUSIVE)

Universal Pictures is in negotiations to land Tom Cruise’s new film, a project set to make history as the first narrative feature shot in space, insiders tell Variety.

The movie, which will be directed by former Cruise collaborator Doug Liman, made waves in May for its record-chasing ambition and for recruiting the full cooperation of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA, who will house the production on the International Space Station.

This kind of innovation does not come cheap. Sources said the production budget has been set at $200 million in the most optimistic projections. Cruise could earn somewhere between $30 million and $60 million, according to insiders. This would cover his services as a producer and star, and also be comprised of significant first-dollar gross participation over a windfall up front.

Representatives for Universal had no comment. A Cruise representative had no immediate comment on the matter.

The inherent marketing value around a global event like this is obvious. Similar to the recent historic launch of SpaceX’s Dragon crew vessel, the entire world will watch as Cruise is rocketed into space, forcing natural curiosity around the results. The stakes are also high from a filmmaking standpoint. As one person familiar with the project put it, “you can’t be sure what you’re going to get up there, and you have one shot to do it.”

A major issue for any company considering the project is insuring Cruise and the filmmaking team, as no scripted production has ever conceived of shooting action sequences outside of Earth’s orbit. The movie is also said to not yet have a script.

At least two of the major streaming platforms were not invited to bid on the project, according to another insider, citing a strong preference from filmmakers to roll out the pic as a splashy theatrical event with a traditional studio.

To call the film an investment on Universal’s part would be an understatement. Cruise must still finish production on the latest “Mission: Impossible” film, which was stalled thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, before he heads directly into the eighth installment of the Paramount franchise.

Given his production schedule and what several insiders familiar with the project noted as considerable prep time for the cinematic feat, 58-year-old Cruise could be well over 60 by the time he straps into the SpaceX Dragon vessel and jets to the ISS to make his call time on set.

Liman and Cruise have previously collaborated on the films “Edge of Tomorrow” and “American Made.”