Tom Cruise, the superstar, may have battled many a bad guy in his movies. But in real life, he will be defeated by a bunch of polar bears. The Hollywood A-lister wishes to film his upcoming movie Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two in Svalbard, Norway. The problem is the actor wants to land 30 helicopters for the shoot. Lars Fause, the governor of Svalbard, refused production company PolarX’s request as it would disturb wildlife in the local area. The pristine part of Earth that is 600 miles away from the North Pole is home to 3,000 polar bears, polar dogs, and reindeer. In contrast, only 2,400 humans call it home.
The archipelago’s head of environmental protection, Kristin Heggelund, stated, “This is a completely different type of helicopter use that goes beyond overflying and the occasional landing. It is a feature film. They want to use helicopter landings as part of the actual film, so with considerable activity on the ground.” Some Svalbard residents do not resonate with the bans and think it is time to get Svalbard the attention it deserves. A movie like Mission Impossible will undoubtedly boost the image of Svalbard.
Ronny Brunvoll, the head of Visit Svalbard, questioned, “I ask myself if it is necessary every time that conservation interests meet business interests,” he added. “We recognise the protection of vulnerable nature has priority. But at the same time there must be a Norwegian presence and activity on the islands.” This dilemma was solved by Aleksander Øren Heen, an environment minister who emphasized that the principle of the government’s Svalbard policy was that “in the event of a conflict between environmental protection and other interests, the environment must weigh more heavily.”