By Kaori Kaneko
TOKYO (Reuters) - Oscar-nominee Tom Cruise kicked off on Thursday the rollout of the fourth installment of the "Mission Impossible" franchise with a limited "fan screening" in Japan ahead of its world premiere next week.
Cruise, 49, returns as super agent Ethan Hunt saving the world yet again in "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol" packed with stunts and action scenes, some featuring the world's tallest building -- Dubai's 828-metre (2,716 ft) Burj Khalifa.
In the latest in the series of action blockbusters that has grossed over $2 billion worldwide, Impossible Mission Force (IMF) operative Hunt and fellow agents get blamed for a terrorist bombing of the Kremlin and are forced to run.
The agency is dissolved and the group -- without any resources or backup -- must find a way to clear the agency's name, prevent another attack and avert a nuclear war.
Asked at a press conference for local media broadcast on the movie's Japanese website how he coped with hard training and long hours on the set, Cruise said: "I just love what I do and I do it because I want to entertain."
"I love being a part of the team and telling a story," said the actor dressed in a military green sweatshirt highlighting his muscular arms and torso.
Major parts of the film were shot in Dubai, where it will officially open on December 7, while the action also takes Hunt to Moscow, Budapest and Mumbai.
Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., said Cruise chose to start the film's tour in Tokyo ahead of the Dubai splash as a gesture to his Japanese fans and the nation that suffered so much from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and the ensuing nuclear crisis.
The film will be released in Japan on December 16 and in the United States on December 21 with theatrical releases around the world staggered over several weeks.
Two-time Academy Award winner Brad Bird directed the film and the cast include Jeremy Renner, nominated for an Oscar for his role in the 2008 war film "The Hurt Locker." Other actors include Simon Pegg and Paula Patton.
Bird won the Oscars for animated films "The Incredibles" released in 2004 and "Ratatouille," released in 2007.
Cruise is producing the film with J.J. Abrams who last teamed up with the actor in 2006 for "Mission Impossible III."
Cruise made his screen debut 30 years ago and since has made 34 films and was involved in a producing role in 17, earned Oscar nominations for leading roles in "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Jerry Maguire." He was also nominated for a supporting role in "Magnolia."
Cruise's last film, 2010 action comedy "Knight and Day" co-starring Cameron Diaz, got mixed reviews.
But the Mission Impossible series has been a solid bet both at the box office and with critics. All three installments garnered more than 50 percent of favorable reviews on aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes with the third scoring 70 percent of positive reviews.
(Writing by Kaori Kaneko and Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Ed Lane)