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Tom Cruise Told It’s a Bad Idea to Land a Helicopter Among 3,000 Polar Bears

Earlier this month Tom Cruise received some unexpected news. PolarX, the production company he’s been working with to film his latest Mission Impossible movie, had sought permission to land helicopters in Svalbard, a Norwegian territory about 600 miles from the North Pole. Svalbard’s governor told them, quite frankly, that this was a bad idea. 

For one thing, landing helicopters and dropping movie stars into the Arctic could be dangerous. In Svalbard, there are more polar bears than people—about 3,000 bears versus just 2,500 residents. Polar bear attacks have been on the rise lately in many Arctic regions. Putting more people in bear territory could lead to more encounters. 

However, this isn’t the danger that Svalbard Governor Lars Fause mentioned in his decision on the matter. Instead, he stated that PolarX’s requested 30 helicopter landings would disturb the wildlife. The landings could cause local polar bears unnecessary stress, reports The Telegraph. Given that polar bear numbers are already on the decline, they need as much help as they can get. 

Svalbard is one of the most remote cities in the world. Image by Fredrik Meling/Getty

Other Norwegian officials pointed to the 2001 Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, which was signed “to preserve a virtually untouched environment in Svalbard with respect to continuous areas of wilderness, landscape, flora, fauna and cultural heritage.”

Among other limitations, the act prohibits the landing of aircraft outside designated landing strips. It also states that “no person may fly an aircraft closer than one nautical mile from large known concentrations of mammals and birds.” Since the archipelago is literally crawling with polar bears, that takes most helicopter landings right out of the running. The governor also withdrew the film subsidies that Svalbard normally offers for such projects. 

The film, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part Two, will be the eighth in the Mission Impossible franchise. The franchise has been ongoing since 1996 and has raked in more than $3.5 billion in that time. Svalbard’s decision on the matter, however, sends a clear message: the fragile arctic environment is more important than Hollywood revenues.

About 3,000 polar bears live in Svalbard. Image by Paul Souders/Getty
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  1. Alice M M Adragna

    There’s other beautiful places Cruise can film his movie. I’m sure once Tom has his mind made up somehow he’ll figure out what is the next best thing he can do for his film success.

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