August 12, 2004 12:00 PM

Tom Cruise is changing his mission, from Impossible to Mars.

Given the problems surrounding Mission: Impossible 3 – which was to begin shooting this summer but still lacks a director – Cruise instead will join his Minority Report director Steven Spielberg for a remake of the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic “War of the Worlds,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The story, which served as the inspiration for the classic 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast (that terrified a nation that believed the report was real) and later a 1953 movie from producer George Pal, revolves around an invasion of earth by visitors from the Red Planet. Not even the atom bomb can stop them.

Spielberg reportedly became available because of problems he was having with his film about the 1972 Munich Olympics, which he originally was scheduled to begin shooting this summer. That project is currently on hold while Angels in America writer Tony Kushner works on revising the screenplay.

M:I-3, meanwhile, is now on the books to shoot next summer, with J.J. Abrams, creator of the TV series Felicity and Alias, set to make his feature directorial debut. No word on whether previously committed costars Scarlett Johansson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kenneth Branagh and Ving Rhames will remain with the project.

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