Insiders tell Vulture that Pixar mainstay Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) has overtaken the competition to direct Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible IV, and is now in negotiations with Paramount Pictures to do the film. A source close to the deal says that the talks hinge on Bird's mammoth quote: animation projects can take three years of work, and therefore the directors get paid much more, and considering Bird's last two films both won Oscars, his normal paycheck is even bigger yet. However, shooting and posting even a big-budget, CGI live-action film takes only a year or so. (In fact, this one can't take any longer; the studio has it slated to open May 27, 2011.) Therefore, Paramount is hoping Bird will reduce his price accordingly.
Speaking of big-shot directors, executive producer J.J. Abrams, who directed M:I3, helped craft the M:I4 story. The screenplay was ultimately written by Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum (ABC's Life on Mars, Happy Town). We hear it involves spies.