tom cruise burj dubai

Did Tom Cruise Sit Atop the Burj Khalifa Without a Harness?

The skyscraper is more than a half-mile tall., published june 10, 2021.

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This is a genuine photograph of Tom Cruise sitting on top of the Burj Khalifa, but he is almost certainly wearing a harness.

A practically unbelievable photograph of actor Tom Cruise sitting on top of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at a height of more than a half mile, is frequently shared online along with the claim that the actor wasn't wearing a harness during the stunt:

tom cruise burj dubai

This photograph was taken in 2011, during the filming of the fourth installment in the "Mission Impossible" series. Cruise did a number of stunts in that movie that took place inside (and outside) the building. Here's a behind-the-scenes clip showing some of these stunts:

At one point during filming, Cruise and the stunt team decided to take a helicopter to the top of the building to get a few photographs. Cruise talked about this experience during an appearance on "The Graham Norton Show."

While the picture is real, there's plenty of reasons to doubt the claim that Cruise was without a harness during this stunt. For one, when Cruise filmed these stunts (as seen in the behind-the-scenes clip above) he is wearing a harness. In fact, Tom Peitzman, the visual effects producer for the movie, said in 2011 that everyone involved in filming these stunts (even those who were inside while Cruise was hanging on the outside of the building) were also wearing a harnesses.

"Special mounts had to be made for the 65-millmeter Imax cameras, special safety had to be put in place, because in a building that's 800 meteres tall [it's 2,723 feet] you couldn't run the risk of anything falling. Even all of us who are working inside the building, we all had to harness ourselves because the window was open." 

With all of the safety precautions that went into filming these stunts, it seems highly improbable that Cruise would be allowed to sit on the top of this building without a harness. 

It should also be noted that while there are pictures of Cruise sitting on the Burj Khalifa and of the helicopter near the Burj Khalifa, there are no photographs of Cruise getting in or out of the helicopter. While it seems likely Cruise simply hopped out of the helicopter for a quick pic, there was likely a little more involved (such as hooking up some sort of security cable.)

It's also worth noting that helicopter is not the only way to access the top of this spire. This column is actually hollow and can be accessed via an internal ladder. This is how maintenance crews would access this area. In 2013, photographer Joe McNally was allowed to access this area to take some images.

It seems likely that someone was waiting for Cruise as he transitioned from the helicopter to the spire, and then helped him attach a safety harness. 

Correction [June 14, 2021]: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to photographer Joe McNally as John McNally.

By Dan Evon

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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The Film Bandit

How tom cruise pulled off the burj khalifa stunt in ‘ghost protocol’.

When moviegoers think of the unforgettable action scenes from the Mission Impossible movies, the Burj Khalifa stunt from Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol inevitably comes to mind. The incredible stunt features actor Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt) scaling the world’s tallest building in Dubai. We take a behind-the-scenes look at what went into filming the stunt, one of the craziest scenes in Mission Impossible history.

Setting the Scene: Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Burj Khalifa , the 2,722-foot skyscraper and engineering marvel in Dubai, boasts 163 floors, including the 130th floor where the shoot for this jaw-dropping scene occurred. Not only is the Burj Khalifa an architectural landmark, but it’s also the backdrop for the fourth installment of Mission Impossible .

Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is on the prowl for Kurt Hendricks, played by Michael Nyqvist , in search of some nuclear launch codes. This will prevent a devastating weapon from falling into the wrong hands.

The Planning Phase

Creating the stunt began with an initial concept from director Brad Bird , who directed both Ratatouille and The Incredibles . Ghost Protocol was Bird’s directorial debut in live-action cinema, and his vision for the Burj Khalifa sequence was ambitious: Tom Cruise had to climb the exterior of the skyscraper. As a filmmaker, Bird wanted to film the scene in real time, with IMAX cameras capturing every jolt of every slipped hand for maximum viewer impact.

Cruise insisted on performing his own stunts, a hallmark of his work across the Mission Impossible franchise, so he took on the challenging Burj Khalifa stunt, forgoing the easy route of using a dedicated stuntman or doubles. As one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Cruise has performed a growing list of extremely dangerous stunts for the majority of his career, often pushing the limits of what an actor will do, from free climbing to a high-speed helicopter chase in Fallout .

Given the height and potential safety concerns involved, the safety of the shoot was extremely important. To ensure the scene could be filmed without a hitch, a comprehensive and coordinated effort was needed from the production team. Dubai Studio City , the city’s official film authority, helmed by Jamal Al Sharif , worked closely with the studio to manage a myriad of logistics. This process involved obtaining special permits, coordinating with the architects and full-time engineers of Burj Khalifa, ensuring that all safety codes were met.

Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa Stunt

The logistics of shooting on the Burj Khalifa’s exterior required innovative expertise. To begin, the production team had to build a glass wall around the area of the building where the shot would be taken. Professional climbers were employed to identify strategic points on the building where the rigging could be attached. To protect the Burj Khalifa’s facade, they had to find a way to break windows for rigging, without causing damage to other parts of the building.

Once the areas of the building were identified and the glass wall was erected, the team faced the next obstacle: rigging up the harnesses and cables that would keep Cruise safe. The actor was attached to a safety harness, which was then fastened to the side of the building itself. A variety of tools were used in the process, including a thin wire, a piece of cable, and a pair of suction gloves. Every component of the setup was meticulously brake-tested and inspected for any potential faults before Cruise was attached.

Beyond the physical setup, the shot required careful planning and coordination. This required a multitude of repetitions to make the stunt appear as smooth and natural as possible on the big screen. It required substantial training and preparation, even for a Hollywood star like Tom Cruise.

Training and Preparation

Before the shot was taken, Cruise underwent extensive training with stuntman, Gregg Smrz . This training involved Cruise learning how to perform an Australian rappel , a descent technique used by climbers, and learning how to maintain his grip on the glass finger holds.

In terms of mental preparation, Cruise employed a sort of Zen mindset, focusing on the task at hand, making sure his mind remained clear during the stunt. The ultimate goal was to allow Cruise to remain calm under pressure. Given the stakes, any minor mistake could have resulted in a grim call, so the stunt required his unwavering focus.

Shooting the Scene

The day of shooting brought with it the tension relief that the scene was finally underway. All the careful planning and rigorous training was about to be put to the test. Director Brad Bird and his crew were faced with numerous challenges during the shoot. One was to ensure that the live-action scene felt authentic. To do this, they employed real-time filming, using IMAX cameras to capture the action as it unfolded.

The scene, captured by the legendary cinematographer Robert Elswit , shows Cruise using a pair of special suction gloves to climb the building, holding on for dear life as he fights crosswinds and the relentless sun. Every frame of the sequence, from the wide shots showing the real dimensions of Burj Khalifa, to the close-ups that reveal the strain on Cruise’s face, adds to the impact of the scene.

Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt.

One of the difficulties that arose during the shoot was the potential threat of a sandstorm. Given Dubai’s desert climate, a sandstorm could have disrupted the shooting schedule. Worse, it could pose a risk to Cruise and the rest of the crew working on the 130th floor of the skyscraper. However, with careful monitoring of weather conditions, they managed to work around this challenge and shoot the scene successfully.

Incorporating humor into this intense scene provided a touch of tension relief. Simon Pegg , who plays Benji Dunn in the movie, delivers a really funny line just before Cruise takes his jump of faith. This juxtaposition of humor and high-stakes action is a signature part of the Mission Impossible franchise.


After the scene was shot, the production team had to replace the windows that were broken during the shoot, making sure the Burj Khalifa returned to its original state. In the end, the sequence required the breaking and subsequent replacement of several windows. This was carefully managed to prevent any lasting damage to the architectural landmark.

Once the film was in post-production, the beauty of Dubai as a shooting location was enhanced through the use of high-quality sound and editing. The inclusion of the Burj Khalifa sequence in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol not only boosted the film’s advertisement but also highlighted the city of Dubai and the skyscraper itself.

The Impact and Legacy of the Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa Stunt

In the end, the shoot was beneficial for Dubai, putting the city and the Burj Khalifa on the map for many international viewers. With its pivotal role in Ghost Protocol , the skyscraper has become an iconic part of cinematic history.

Lastly, Tom Cruise’s commitment to performing his own stunts, combined with the willingness of the Mission Impossible team to push boundaries, resulted in an action sequence that is unforgettable, even now. The Burj Khalifa stunt is definitely one of Cruise’s most famous feats.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like Behind Tom Cruise’s Insane Rogue Nation Airplane Stunt.

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How Tom Cruise pulled off that 'Mission: Impossible 4' skyscraper climb and canceled his retirement from the blockbuster franchise

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As the star of the Mission: Impossible movie series, Tom Cruise has been pulling off impossible missions — and improbable stunts — for a quarter century and counting. From the 1996 franchise-starter to the currently filming seventh and eight installments, the first of which will hit theaters in 2022 , the actor's alter ego, super-agent Ethan Hunt, has traveled the globe and saved the world many times over.

But Cruise's license to thrill almost got revoked a decade ago in the fourth installment, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol . Directed by Brad Bird and released in theaters on Dec. 15, 2011, the movie was widely assumed at the time to be the star's final outing. In a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Ghost Protocol stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz confirms that's how things went down in the original script, which features an extended climax where Ethan chases rogue nuclear strategist Kurt Hendricks (played by Michael Nyqvist) around a towering carpark.

"There was a point in the script when he's fighting Michael Nyqvist where he was supposed to get his leg broken," Smrz remembers now. "They wanted it hyper-extended at the knee, just shredded — end of career, you know? The studio was going to write him out, and Tom did not want it. He was strapping in his harness, looked at me and said, 'I ain't going nowhere.' Then he walked out on set and did his thing. We had [the leg break] all set and ready to go, and it disappeared."

Turns out that Cruise called his shot correctly. Far from becoming his last Mission: Impossible movie, Ghost Protocol relit the franchise's fuse with a mighty $210 million domestic box-office gross and a wave of ecstatic reviews. The movie also boasts a sequence that consistently ranks on or near the top of any list of the very best Mission: Impossible stunts : Ethan's nail-biting climb up the side of Dubai's world-famous Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

As stunt coordinator, Smrz — who first collaborated with Cruise on Mission: Impossible 2 — oversaw that scene and agrees that it's one for the record books. "I said to Brad, 'Do you have any idea what we're doing?'" he recalls. "'We're climbing 1,700 feet in the air, 200 feet up a building. This has never been done before, and it'll never be done again, because they're never going to allow it.' It's a work of art, and I don't think it can ever be beat as far as a climbing sequence on a building."

And as Smrz reveals, it's a stunt that very nearly didn't happen. Early on in pre-production, Paramount seemed poised to cancel Ghost Protocol outright before shooting started. "We had started prepping the building climb immediately on a studio lot, and were on the payroll for about before weeks when we heard that they were going to pull the plug. Tom went to have a meeting with [the studio] and we would know the outcome at the end of it."

Fortunately, Cruise emerged from that meeting with a greenlight, and Smrz and his team restarted preparations for pulling off the Burj Khalifa climb — a sequence that was always designed to serve as the movie's spectacular centerpiece. Initially skeptical that the building's owner would let them turn the 2,722-foot skyscraper into a movie set, the crew recreated three floors of the Burj on a soundstage in Prague. "We built an adjustable wall, slowly raised it until it was vertical and practiced for 200 hours on it with a crew of seven or eight guys. But Tom kept saying, 'I really want to climb that building.'"

Eventually, a compromise was reached: the production could shoot for one day on the exterior of the building, and the rest of the sequence would be shot on another 60-foot adjustable wall that has been constructed in the desert outside of Dubai. Once again, though, Cruise changed the course of production with a single sentence. "The first day [on the Burj] went so well that Tom said, 'We're filming the whole thing here on the real building.' We ended up doing one day of shooting over on the set, and the rest of it was on the real building."

With Cruise leading the charge, the Ghost Protocol crew worked out a deal with the building's owners that gave them full access to several floors that weren't yet in use. Smrz and his team then knocked out roughly 17 glass panels to make room for the stunt and camera cables and other rigging.

"I told them, 'We won't scratch your building; we're not going to damage anything.' As they saw that we were not destructive and really cared about their building, they started to work with us. There was this one guy I called Dr. No, because every time I'd ask if we could do something, he'd go, 'No!' at first. But towards the end, if I said, 'Hey, we need to drill another hole,' he'd say, 'Just tell me where.'"

As designed by Cruise, Bird and Smrz, the eight-minute Burj sequence has two distinct movements: Ethan's slow, deliberate climb up the side of the Burj in order to recover all-important nuclear launch codes and then his rapid descent. The upwards journey includes a gasp-inducing plunge where Hunt falls from an unsteady perch outside his target floor. Cruise performed the fall himself, dropping roughly forty feet from a height of 1,700 feet off the ground.

"That was probably the most nail-biting day of the show," Smrz says, adding that they only did a single take of Cruise's fall. "Somebody said, 'What if the cable breaks?' And I said, 'That's not an option.' We actually did the math, and there was enough time of free fall for him to text me on the way down, and for me to receive it!"

But Smrz also makes it clear that he would have overruled Cruise if he truly felt the star would be in danger. "If he wasn't an actor, Tom could have been a stuntman, and I would put anybody in anything if I didn't think it was safe for a stunt guy. I've got to be 99.9 percent sure it's going to be successful before we do it, whether it's a stunt person or an actor. So putting Tom into the harness was no different than a stunt guy. I expect the stunt to work, because we've already proven it over and over. "

Ethan's journey down the Burj starts with him running down the side of the building until he literally reaches the end of his rope. But he's the opposite of home free: He's still one floor above the rest of his team — William (Jeremy Renner), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Jane (Paula Patton) — and has to make a daring leap into the void to reach them. In order to gain the necessary momentum, Ethan runs in the opposite direction alongside the building and then power jumps into the air, swinging on the cable in a wide arc as he heads for the open window where William and Jane stand.

"When Tom swung on that rope around the building, Brad wanted him to go out farther," Smrz remembers. "I said, 'We'd have a problem: He has to come back, and I can't soften the impact on the glass. So the farther he goes out, the harder he's going to hit the glass, and he's already hitting it really hard.' Brad came from the world of animation where anything he wanted to do was possible, but I have a reputation for trying to keep everything real. I like to see when they hit the ground, that it hurts. But Brad was great to work with, because we'd always just sit down and talk and make sure we both were happy."

Ethan's cable swing also includes some shots that were filmed on the recreation of the Burj, including the moment where he unclips in mid-air and the moment where he flies at the window, hitting his head. But the scene where Renner clutches Cruise's leg high above Dubai was filmed on location. "We had Tom suspended on the real building, and then we dropped him," Smrz explains. "Jeremy and Paula were on cables, and they actually did dive out the window and caught Tom by his ankle. The actors did a fantastic job, especially because it was hot. We were working on glass, and it got up to 125 degrees."

The Burj Khalifa climb wasn't just a franchise-best stunt: It was also a personal best for Cruise, one that the actor has been trying to top ever since. "He wants to beat it," says Smrz, who hasn't worked on a Mission: Impossible movie since 2015's Rogue Nation , where Cruise awarded him the opportunity to choreograph the wild motorcycle chase of his dreams . "We took it to a whole other level, but it wasn't beating the building, you know what I mean? It was just a motorcycle chase. So they came up with that plane stunt . Tom's going to try to step it up to the next level in every movie, but he's also getting older: I used to tell him, 'Tom, you're going to end up walking like I do if you keep this up!'"

In that case, it's just as well that Cruise is better known for his running anyway. Asked about the actor's famously meme-friendly fleet feet , Smrz confirms he's the last person you want to be in a race with. "He can run 17-and-a-half miles an hour," he marvels. "In the scene where he's running away from the Burj, I had my stunt guys chasing him, and he was killing them. I said, 'Can you slow down a little?' And he started laughing and said, 'I'm not slowing down — tell them to speed up!' He's really fast and he has this odd style where he really lifts his legs high, and he's got the arms and legs pumping. Maybe that's his secret."

Reflecting on the Burj Khalifa climb a decade later, Smrz feels that it's increasingly rare for a studio to allow a movie star, and a stunt crew, the time and resources necessary to pull off a major setpiece on that level. "The big thing was that we really could have done that entire sequence on a stage and with visual effects. But Tom refuses to do that, because he wants climbing the Burj to be part of the thing that he does. He likes to do his own stuff, it's great for publicity and he enjoys it. It's always funny when somebody tells me, 'Tom's not going to do that — the studio's not going to allow it.' And I just say, 'He'll be doing it.'"

At the same time, with the tragedy on the set of Rust still fresh in everyone's minds , Smrz acknowledges that the industry is potentially facing widespread change in terms of how major action sequences are handled, especially when guns are involved. For his part, he believes that safety is always paramount even if it comes with a price tag. "I've been told [by studios], 'You and your guys are too expensive,'" Smrz says. "But at the end of every film, I always ask, 'Still think I'm too expensive?' and they go, 'No, we got what we paid for.' It's so busy out there right now ... and it has a lot to do with the experience of the person they hire. And right now, they're kind of hiring anybody, so it's a little scary.

"I don't think squibs and gunfire are going to go away," Smrz continues. "It's part of the job, and you have to be extra safe and unafraid to stand your ground. You have to be willing to get fired if you know that you're right and they want to push on anyway. On five occasions, I've started to walk off the set and never made it off because they realize how serious you are. You're willing to leave the movie, and that's what it takes if they expect us to keep it safe. I don't think it can get any safer: I mean, if they're going to make it so problematic that they'll just stop doing stuff, it'll all be cartoons."

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is currently streaming on Paramount+.

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Tom Cruise Scales World's Tallest Building For 'Mission: Impossible' Sequel

tom cruise burj dubai

Tom Cruise is many things. Afraid of heights is not one of them.

The 48-year-old actor has long insisted on performing his own stunts for his high-octane action movies, famously scaling the face of a mountain in Sydney, Australia, for the opening sequence of "Mission: Impossible II." But that dangerous stunt has nothing on Cruise's latest feat in "Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol," the fourth entry in the espionage series. In round four, Cruise is trading in a mountain for the tallest skyscraper in the world.

Photos have surfaced of Cruise hanging on the side of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, which stands as the world's tallest building at 2,717 feet. Cruise, reprising his famous role as super-spy extraordinaire Ethan Hunt, filmed his scenes along with another unidentified actor, reportedly leaping over the man during a chase sequence that involves a helicopter hovering a mere ten feet from Burj Khalifa.

Cruise's deadly stunt was surprising, to say the least -- one can only imagine what onlookers must have been thinking watching the actor run along the top of the impossibly tall building -- but it's not as if he didn't warn anybody about it. At a press conference last week, Cruise informed attendees that he would be "spending many days [and] many hours on the side of this building. I can't give details, but I will be up there."

The actor's spokeswoman added: "Tom has been preparing for the stunt for some time. He believes if he performs the stunts himself, the audience believes more in his character."

Well, if nothing else, Cruise's latest stunt just proves that no mission is truly impossible.

Check out everything we've got on

href="/movies/movie/448785/moviemain.jhtml">"Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol."

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Behind the scenes of Tom Cruise's Burj Khalifa stunt

Incredible footage of Cruise jumping out of windows of the 828 metre Burj Khalifa

Dubai: Take a look at this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing just how Tom Cruise did his stunts on the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, for his upcoming film Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol . Cruise shocked the world last October when he performed stunt after crazy stunt on the outside of the building, and here the film's director Brad Bird takes viewers inside the shooting with some incredible footage of Cruise jumping out of windows of the 828 metre skyscraper, swinging around the side of the building -- and even running down it. You won't believe your eyes.

The film releases in the UAE at Imax and standard cinemas on December 17.

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Photos Of Tom Cruise's Spectacular Skyscraper Stunt From 'Mission: Impossible 4 - Ghost Protocol'

tom cruise burj dubai

At a Dubai press conference not too long ago for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol , Tom Cruise mentioned that some filming would take place at Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. "I'll be spending many days, many hours on the side of this building, I can't give you details, but I will be up there," Cruise said. Now, photos have surfaced online that show exactly what he was referring to. Hit the jump to check them out.

The below photos come from the Daily Mail , who report that the shooting the scene was incredibly tense, both for film crew and for onlookers watching below. This was understandable, as Burj Khalifa took over 5 years to construct and is over 2,700 feet tall. Cruise hung from the building's observation deck, 124 floors above the ground. Apparently, the stunt involved running across the building and jumping over another actor, also dangling precariously high up. A helicopter was just 10 feet away to capture the scene from the outside.

Cruise has often expressed a preference for doing his own stunts. He told the Daily Record this past summer:

I want to entertain the audience and part of making these movies is doing my own stunts. I love having the camera right there in front of me, where you can see me holding a shot all the way through. I think it adds to the excitement for an audience. It's something that is challenging to do and fun for me.

It might sound a bit narcissistic to some but I actually appreciate Cruise's work ethic. As jaded moviegoers, we've been trained to look for the cut where the stunt double replaces the actor. It's nice to know there are still some actors out there willing to put their asses on the line for the sake of entertainment.

tom cruise burj dubai

Screen Rant

How mission impossible 4 tricked you with a physically impossible camera movement in burj khalifa stunt.

A VFX artist explains how Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol tricks viewers with a physically impossible camera shot during the Burj Khalifa stunt.

  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol pushed boundaries by using a camera trick to capture Tom Cruise climbing and reacting to a sandstorm through a glass window.
  • The stunt was filmed on a partial set piece in Vancouver, with the skyline and sandstorm added in post-production.
  • The success of the Mission: Impossible movies is due in part to the dedicated behind-the-scenes artists who push the limits of filmmaking.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol may have had Tom Cruise scaling the world’s tallest building, but a subtle camera trick used during the stunt sequence is what truly pushed the boundaries of what was possible. Serving as the first live-action movie for The Incredibles director Brad Bird, 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol saw Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team attempt to steal nuclear launch codes during a clandestine meeting held at the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. However, to access the building’s secure server and trick the original buyer, Hunt is forced to scale the side of the building in one of the movie's more memorable sequences.

During a new episode of Corridor Crew ’s "VFX Artists React" series on YouTube with guest, ILM VFX artist Todd Vaziri, the hosts are stunned by a moment when the camera moves around Cruise’s head, seemingly moving right through the glass window he is climbing to catch his reaction to an incoming sandstorm. Vaziri revealed that portion of the stunt was filmed on a partial set piece in Vancouver against a blue screen, and that while Cruise was only 20 feet in the air, the Dubai skyline and incoming sandstorm were composited in during post-production. Check out the full explanation in the quotes and video below:

So this is on a partial set piece in Vancouver. He’s 20 feet off the ground, and some of the sky is the real Vancouver sky. On the flip side is a blue screen. We are looking at the beginning of the shot into the set piece of the reflective window into a blue screen, so that’s all synthetic back there. [Digital artist] Mark Nettleton did an amazing job in this shot. As the camera swings around, the window is removed so that the camera can swing around and get an over-the-shoulder of Tom. That’s a real reflection of Tom, but not of Dubai.

How The Mission: Impossible Series Continues To Push Filmmaking Boundaries

When Tom Cruise first rebooted the classic 1960s spy show Mission: Impossible in 1996, few would have believed that he would still be helming the blockbuster franchise some 27 years later with plans to return for even more. While this year’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One did not perform as well at the box office as first anticipated, it still did manage to bring in over $560 million worldwide and push the cumulative total of the franchise past a massive $4 billion milestone.

A large part of the franchise’s ongoing longevity and enduring appeal comes from Cruise’s willingness to engage in a series of death-defying stunts, with each movie featuring a series of increasingly more impressive feats. Yet, as this latest revelation about the fourth installment suggests, there is still far more behind-the-scenes VFX and camera work needed to bring the final sequences together. For every nail-biting moment that Cruise places himself in danger for the sake of entertainment, a swarm of dedicated camera operators, VFX crew and digital artists are also pushing the boundaries of their respective fields to deliver a polished product.

This latest behind-the-scenes revelation about Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol simply reinforces the vast amount of careful forethought and planning that goes into capturing Cruise’s amazing stunt work. Whether it be the clever use of drone technology in order to capture him hurtling off a cliff on the back of a motorcycle, or making it seem as though a window on a 163-story building could miraculously disappear, the success of the Mission: Impossible movies owe a great deal to their dedicated behind-the-scenes artists.

Source: Corridor Crew

Key Release Date

Mission: impossible - dead reckoning part two.

Stand Aside, Tom Cruise: The Real Star of ‘Ghost Protocol’ Is the Dubai Skyscraper He Scales

The real star of “Ghost Protocol” is the skyscraper Tom Cruise scales, writes Alex Ritman in Dubai.

Alex Ritman

tom cruise burj dubai

Joel Saget, AFP / Getty Images

Even those who don’t suffer from vertigo are likely to let out an audible gasp the first time Tom Cruise steps out from an open window high up in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol . As the camera slowly pans over the top of the actor, playing the seemingly indestructible superspy Ethan Hunt in the franchise’s fourth installment, the hundred-plus floors of this glistening glass-paneled tower, currently the tallest manmade structure in the world at some 2,716 feet (that’s almost two Empire State Buildings), are revealed below to heart-stopping effect. It’s an astonishing sight, and one that kick-starts arguably not just the most impressive series of stunts in this film, but of any recent live-action movie.

Cruise casually climbs, Spider-Man–like , up about 65 meters, or 213 feet, abseils down again, swings from one side to another and falls some 10 floors before crashing back inside. And it is the man himself who performs the stunts too, as the amateur footage shot by visitors inside the tower while filming was taking place in 2010 proves.

While Cruise is no doubt relieved at his return to box office glory, with Ghost Protocol sailing past $250 million in box office receipts as it topped most international charts over the Christmas weekend, Dubai is reveling in the attention. The Burj Khalifa was designed to put the city on the map and draw global recognition. And now, thanks to a few minutes of daredevil antics on big screens around the world, it is doing so. But for those who have lived in this futuristically skylined city in the United Arab Emirates for the past few years, it’s the culmination of a development they’ve watched grow, little by little, for almost a decade.

Work on the project, which was originally to called Burj Dubai (“Dubai Tower”), began rapidly in September 2004, a point at which much of the city was expanding at a ferocious rate as its real-estate market soared. At the peak of the building’s development, some 12,000 workers—mostly low-waged migrant workers from the Indian subcontinent—were thought to be on-site, with a new floor added every three days.

Finally, on Jan. 4, 2010, after several delays a display of around 10,000 fireworks heralded the Burj Dubai’s opening. But amid the excitement came the surprise announcement that the name was to change. Unfortunately, the launch of this $1.5 billion tower had arrived during a rather sticky period for Dubai. The financial crisis had plunged the emirate into debt, with numerous ambitious developments consigned to the “indefinite postponement” bin and property prices having almost halved. In the end, it was the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi that came to the rescue with a $25 billion bailout package, and it was its ruler, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was being honored in the name Burj Khalifa.

tom cruise burj dubai

The change came as a shock to almost everyone, not least the traffic department, which quickly had to change the road signs, and those working in the brand new souvenir shop selling Burj Dubai T-shirts.

But while it may have been an embarrassing moment for Dubai, two years later nobody even remembers that the tower was meant to have another name. The Burj Khalifa might not be to everyone’s tastes, a twinkling megalith that literally dwarves everything around it, but it has instantly become a centerpiece, a rather handy landmark for directions. And for a city that prides itself on superlatives, the tower has added numerous others.

In the predictably overpriced Atmosphere on the 122nd floor, we have the world’s highest restaurant, a mere 36 floors lower than the world’s highest mosque on the 158th. Taking visitors to the world’s highest observation deck, on the 124th floor, is the world’s fastest elevator, at 37 mph. In front of the Burj Khalifa sits the Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest musical fountain spraying water 150 yards into the air, which sits next to the world’s largest shopping center, the Dubai Mall.

And should shopping or dancing water tire you out, there’s the five-star Armani Hotel and Armani Residences, the subtly shaded luxury abodes apparently designed by Giorgio himself, that take up the first 39 floors of the Burj Khalifa. Earlier in 2011 two-bedroom residence units were going for $8.1 million, roughly $3,675 per square foot, while a room in the hotel is now available for around $650 per night.

While prices are indeed thought to have dropped across the whole tower—some figures putting rental prices down by 70 percent just nine months after the opening—it seems that for many, owning a set of Burj Khalifa keys is simply another badge of honor in a town where a line of Ferraris barely raises an eyebrow. One millionaire Indian businessman recently admitted that he uses the two floors of the tower he purchased for $12.7 million only to host parties.

The success of Ghost Protocol and the Burj Khalifa’s impressive role in the movie could well serve as a timely boost to Dubai’s tourism industry. But the city needs to act quickly to take advantage. Rumors of a Mission: Impossible 5 are already surfacing, and just next door Saudi Arabia is thought to soon be breaking ground on the Kingdom Tower, set to be at least a kilometer (3,280 feet) high. And if anyone’s going to start leaping from the top of that in the name of box office ratings, it’s Cruise.

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Six times Tom Cruise has spoken about the UAE

'mission: impossible' actor celebrates his 60th birthday on sunday.

Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie on the set of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Abu Dhabi Film Commission

Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie on the set of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Abu Dhabi Film Commission

Katy Gillett author image

For all the dangerous stunts he still performs for his films, it could be hard to believe Tom Cruise is 60.

Yet, his birthday, which fell on Sunday is the start of the Mission: Impossible actor's seventh decade.

To mark the occasion, The National reminisces on Cruise's adventures in the UAE.

Introducing 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol'

First, let's rewind to 2010, when Cruise headed to Dubai for one of his first and most high-profile visits.

It's October and the crew had been preparing for weeks. Then, Cruise jetted in and the long-awaited filming of the fourth instalment of the Mission: Impossible series — the biggest movie to be shot in Dubai at that point — kicked into high gear.

He'd taken a break from production to unveil the official name of the movie, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol , and popped into Dubai's Armani Hotel with some of the other crew members and actors.

tom cruise burj dubai

Cruise talked about how accommodating their partners in Dubai had been, from building sound stages to shuttling them quickly to numerous locations.

He was impressed by the warm welcome and the scenery, Cruise said.

"I dream about coming to places like this," he said. "It is such a stunning city."

That Burj Khalifa stunt

During the 2010 trip, he famously scaled Burj Khalifa , becoming one of the elite few to climb the tallest building in the world .

It became the most famous scene in the fourth Mission: Impossible film, which came out in 2011.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol at DIFF_1
Courtesy Paramount Pictures

The city plays a rather impressive part in the film, with scenes shot at the Deira side of Dubai Creek, at the bridge leading to the Meydan Racecourse in Nad El Sheba, in DIFC, Satwa and the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel.

"The first moment on the Burj, when I saw the rope, I remember just thinking this is — this is — the moment of truth," Cruise said, days ahead of the movie's release at the 8th Dubai International Film Festival. "There's one thing seeing it and another thing trying to accomplish that. I remember that I didn't quite make it the first time and came slamming into the building."

Dubai as a 'dream' shooting destination

Cruise had said in 2010 that it was a dream of his to shoot in a place such as Dubai.

He reiterated that in 2011, when he said he was convinced the city would soon provide a backdrop for many other major film productions.

From left, actors Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg and Anil Kapoor on the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, ahead of the 'Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol' press conference, during the 8th Annual Dubai International Film Festival

"I know that already people have said they want to come here and shoot. People have asked us what it was like and are very interested."

He also said: "Watching the city being built, I was on a layover once — refuelling here — and every time I've been, I've wanted to film here. It's a beautiful city, a very cinematic city. The way it's set up — it's incredibly modern, an extraordinary accomplishment."

'Warmth and hospitality' of the UAE

Cruise has commented more than once on how accommodating people in the UAE have been during his production visits.

"The warmth and hospitality shown throughout shooting and the whole time we were here was a wonderful experience," Cruise said at a press conference in 2011 at Burj Khalifa, as part of the 8th Dubai International Film Festival.

Years later, in March 2018, he said something similar about Abu Dhabi, after shooting in the capital for Mission: Impossible — Fallout , the sixth instalment in the long-running action film franchise.

"Thank you to everyone in Abu Dhabi for the amazing help and cooperation. Our filming here continues to be a wonderful experience," he wrote on Twitter.

Thank you to everyone in Abu Dhabi for the amazing help and cooperation. Our filming here continues to be a wonderful experience. — Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) March 6, 2018

'One of his most dangerous stunts yet'

In June 2018, Cruise praised the UAE for its help in creating “one of his most dangerous stunts yet”.

Cruise made the halo jump — a military free-fall manoeuvre designed to get troops on the ground undetected — for a scene in Mission: Impossible — Fallout .

Cruise had to jump out of a plane at 7,600 metres over the Abu Dhabi desert and wait until he was below 600 metres to pull his parachute for the stunt. It took more than 100 jumps to shoot the scene, as it had to be filmed as close to sunset as possible, giving the crew only three minutes a day to get the perfect shot.

“We needed the UAE,” said Cruise in a video posted on Twitter to promote the movie’s release. “Had they not stepped in, we would not have been able to accomplish the sequence.”

The stunt took a year in planning, and filmmakers had to commission one of the world’s largest wind tunnels so Cruise could practise on the ground first.

A trip to Louvre Abu Dhabi

Last year, Cruise descended on Abu Dhabi again to shoot Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning — Part One .

الممثل العالمي توم كروز ، في كل مرة التقي به يقول لي : i love Abudhabi i love your country 🇦🇪 — حمد الحوسني | Hamad Alhosani (@Hahosani) February 13, 2021

He took some time to visit Louvre Abu Dhabi, one of the capital's most famous landmarks.

Cruise, 58, can be seen wearing a face mask in an image that was posted by Hamad Alhosani on Twitter.

"Every time I meet him, he tells me, 'I love Abu Dhabi, I love your country'," the caption read.

The UAE shoots of the film , which will come out in July next year, took place in February last year.

A new trailer for it came out last month , featuring the Liwa desert and Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Midfield Terminal in the trailer.

Watch the trailer here:

Watch: Mission Impossible trailer shows glimpses of Abu Dhabi

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning trailer

The snippet suggests the majestic landscape of the Liwa desert is used for a series of action sequences, including a horse chase and the arrival of military troops.

In the trailer, Cruise also runs down a barren road in the desert, in addition to surveying the vistas beside a horse.

The familiar image of Abu Dhabi airport's 700,000-square-metre Midfield Terminal also forms the backdrop of an action scene with actors Hayley Atwell and Simon Pegg, who are seen sprinting down the concourse.

While the plot details are vague, it's known that Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt the spy, returns to the job to rescue the world from malevolent criminals. The film continues the franchise tradition of being an international affair, with shoots also taking place in London , Italy, Poland and Norway.

Tom Cruise arrives by helicopter for 'Top Gun: Maverick' world premiere — in pictures

tom cruise burj dubai

Tom Cruise arrived to the world premiere in style via a N547SA airbus helicopter emblazoned with his name and the 'Top Gun: Maverick' logo. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images / AFP

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Video: how emirates pulled off a daring ad shoot at the top of the burj khalifa.

tom cruise burj dubai

Dubai - At 828 metres above ground, this marks one of the highest ads ever filmed.

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Published: Mon 9 Aug 2021, 1:21 PM

Last updated: Wed 25 Aug 2021, 11:10 AM

The Emirates ad that features a 'cabin crew member' in full uniform standing on the highest point of the Burj Khalifa was filmed without any green screen or special effects, the airline has confirmed.

With this ad, the featured stuntwoman — Nicole Smith-Ludvik, a professional skydiving instructor — has joined only a handful of individuals who have stood at the 828-metre pinnacle of the world’s tallest building.

>> UAE-UK travel: Emirates' celebration stunt on top of Burj Khalifa 'very, very real'

Ohers on the elite list include Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; and Hollywood legend Tom Cruise.

The 30-second clip opens with a close-up of Nicole holding up message boards in a nod to the famous scene in the 2003 hit ‘Love Actually’. The camera zooms out to show that she is actually standing at the very top of the Burj Khalifa.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video:

How the ad was filmed

The ad was the result of rigorous planning, training, testing and a strict safety protocol. At the pinnacle of the building, the main protagonist had a reduced circumference space of only 1.2 metres at 828 metres high to pull off the stunt.

“A casting call was put out to Emirates' very own cabin crew team and while there were some willing and capable candidates, a professional skydiving instructor was cast to ensure the highest levels of safety,” the airline said.

Throughout filming and in preparation of the shoot, safety remained the main priority.

“A custom platform with an attached pole was built at the top for the protagonist to stand on. She was attached to the pole as well as two other different points directly to the pinnacle, through a hidden harness under the Emirates uniform.”

Filming started at sunrise to catch the golden hour light. The team began their ascent to the pinnacle before sunrise. The climb took 1 hour and 15 minutes from level 160 of the Burj Khalifa.

They had to scale several tiers and ladders inside a tube to reach the top. The team was at the pinnacle for around five hours. A single drone was used to capture the footage in a continuous take to film the complete sequence.

At 828 metres above ground, this marks one of the highest ads ever filmed and was conceptualised and directed by Emirates' in-house brand team with the help of Prime Productions AMG, based in Dubai.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, said: “We always look to challenge the norm and push boundaries at Emirates. We do it every day through our innovative services, our best in class product and, of course, through our advertising. The calm and confidence of the cabin crew you see in the ad is an embodiment of our frontline team, serving travellers and ensuring their safety.

“We're proud to be among a privileged few who have been allowed to film at the top of the Burj Khalifa by Emaar; and even prouder that we get to showcase our beautiful city, Dubai.

The ad will be adapted for several markets across the Emirates network, incorporating relevant messages for different audiences. The first TV campaign will run in the UK.

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