“The desert is beautiful and those sequences are just epic”: says Tom Cruise on shooting his global hit Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One in Abu Dhabi!

The Tom Cruise starrer Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has been creating waves all across the world. However the film shares a significantly strong connection with Abu Dhabi as several key sequences were shot in the city.  

Not surprisingly, the Middle East premiere of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was held at Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental in Abu Dhabi with stars Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff and Simon Pegg, as well as director Christopher McQuarrie, walking the red carpet.

Pic: Yasir Arafat

The highly-anticipated seventh instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise was filmed at the iconic Midfield Terminal Building and stunning Liwa Desert over the course of 15 days in 2021, with the full support of Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), part of the Creative Media Authority.

“This story is an epic adventure, and the desert and the airport here are very cinematic. The airport is the biggest set I’ve ever been on in my life, and it’s gorgeous.” – Tom Cruise

Filming took place inside the terminal as well as on the roof of the 742,000sqm building, the longest single standing arch in the world at 180m, and the movie will be the first time the public gets to see inside the structure. The intricacies of the shoot involved constructing an Arabian village in Liwa and various complex sets at the terminal, requiring a collaborative effort from multiple entities across Abu Dhabi, including twofour54, which provided full production services, and Abu Dhabi Airports (AD Airports) and Etihad Airways, the official airline partner of the film, which together facilitated access to the Midfield Terminal Building. As well as bringing cast and crew to the UAE for the production, scenes were also filmed on board Etihad’s 787 Dreamliner.

Tom Cruise said: “This story is an epic adventure, and the desert and the airport here are very cinematic. The airport is the biggest set I’ve ever been on in my life, and it’s gorgeous. It’s cinema, it’s big-screen cinema. The desert is beautiful and those sequences are just epic. What we do is look at the geography and ask what story it’s going to tell, and the desert has a romantic quality that looks amazing on screen.”

Director Christopher McQuarrie said: “For this instalment of Mission: Impossible, we wanted to make an even bigger and more global film. Abu Dhabi Airports gave us access to the Midfield Terminal building, which enabled us to shoot a sequence in a way that has never been done before. It was an extraordinary, beautiful location. It’s epic in scale.”

He added: “Once we decided we were going to shoot the airport sequence in Abu Dhabi, we decided to shoot a desert sequence as well, something Tom and I have always dreamed about. The things that we’re doing, while they seem to flow rather effortlessly, are actually very complicated and involve a lot of skill on Tom’s part. Abu Dhabi really was the biggest set we’d ever worked on; what motivates us even more than the action is the beauty of the locations and the people that we’re celebrating when we go there.”

An exclusive video was shown at the premiere, which was introduced by HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), and showed behind the scenes of the technically complex and incredibly ambitious production in Abu Dhabi, as well as a first look at the action-packed scenes shot there.

His Excellency Khalfan Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Acting Director General of the Creative Media Authority, said: “The Middle East premiere of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is another milestone moment for Abu Dhabi. It is a sign of our thriving industry and our commitment to being a global hub for filmmaking. It was a complex shoot across two amazing locations and Abu Dhabi Film Commission supported with our full range of services, from location scouting to our 30% rebate and helping with logistics such as permits, approvals and visas to ensure a smooth and seamless shoot for Christopher, Tom and the rest of the cast and crew.”

Elena Sorlini, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “We’re proud of our role in the film and excited to share a glimpse of the new Airport Terminal on the big screen as it debuts on the international stage. The scenes filmed for the movie will showcase the terminal as a masterpiece of modern architecture and design, reflecting the cultural elements of Abu Dhabi and embodying our commitment to deliver a reimagined airport experience for the millions of passengers who travel to and from the capital.”

Antonoaldo Neves, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We’re thrilled to be a partner of Mission: Impossible and to showcase Abu Dhabi as a truly stunning and epic destination. The behind-the-scenes footage shows how incredible the new Abu Dhabi International Airport is, as well as the beauty of the Liwa desert.

He adds, “In celebration of our partnership with Mission: Impossible, we have unveiled a unique livery on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, launched a new brand campaign, a sales campaign with ‘Impossible Deals’, as well as a special menu for our guests on board. We’re also inviting our guests to immerse themselves in our dedicated Mission: Impossible channel on E-Box featuring the movies and behind-the-scenes content.”

Derek Hall, Acting Studios Chief at twofour54, said: “When Tom Cruise and the Mission Impossible team set out to make their ground-breaking HALO jump in 2018, they knew they were asking for the impossible – a rare C-17 military transport plane, pilots and personnel for weeks on end. twofour54 made the impossible possible by liaising with the UAE military to secure the talent and equipment they needed. By doing what we do best, twofour54 ensured the cast and crew of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One could repeat that experience in 2021 by providing full productions services for more heart-stopping scenes in Abu Dhabi.”

It is the second time the Mission Impossible franchise has filmed in Abu Dhabi, following the jaw-dropping HALO jump sequence that was shot in the emirate for 2018’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is among 140 major productions to have shot in Abu Dhabi in the past 10 years. Working with major companies such as Disney, Netflix, Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures, Abu Dhabi Film Commission provided support to multiple blockbuster films. As well as Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, films include Dune and Dune 2, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 6 Underground and Furious 7, as well as Bollywood hits such as Vikram Vedha, Tiger Zinda Hai and Bharat.


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