Tom Cruise held the first world screening of “Top Gun: Maverick” at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, introducing the long-awaited sequel while swinging in a twin-engine plane.
The premiere of the film, which retraces the story of Maverick and his fellow pilots more than three decades after the original production, was scheduled for 2020 but was postponed several times due to the pandemic.
Famous for performing many of his characters’ stunts, Cruise introduced the screening to the film industry via video message from the fuselage of a plane flying over South Africa.
“Hi everyone, wish I was up there with you. Sorry about the noise,” Cruise yelled, referring to the engine noise and high winds.
“As you can see, we’re shooting the final installment of Mission: Impossible.”
“Tom does everything at full speed and you can’t stop him. He’s going to do things no matter what,” joked producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who also worked on the first film, at the CinemaCon convention.
Plot details and reviews are embargoed until the film officially opens at the Cannes Film Festival next month, but “Top Gun: Maverick” drew a wave of praise on social media from journalists at the event. Paramount studio event at CinemaCon.
The film combines adrenaline-pumping action scenes shot on real US Navy fighters with emotional references to the 1986 production.
“All of our careers pretty much took off from then on,” Bruckheimer said, explaining why it took so long before he made the sequel.
Tony Scott, director of the first film, passed away in 2012, but Joseph Kosinki took over the sequel. “He approached the project in a way that would thrill Tom.”
Kosinski said he was inspired by footage available on YouTube that was recorded on GoPro cameras by fighter pilots during their training in the US Navy.
“I showed them to Tom and told him that’s free on the internet. ‘If we can’t get through this, there’s no point in making this movie.’ And he agreed.”
With the support of Navy engineers, the filmmakers placed six cameras inside the cockpits of the planes.
– “Iceman” –
The original movie that caused a stir in the 1980s was based on a training program known as “Topgun” and set in a former naval air station in San Diego, Southern California.
After the release of the movie starring Cruise and Kelly McGillis, recruiting officials noted a dramatic increase in applications from aspiring pilots. Application tables were installed in some cities outside of movie theaters.
The filmmakers “didn’t have a lot of support from the Navy” to shoot “Top Gun” at the time, Kosinski said.
“On the other hand, when we approached the Navy to do this movie, they threw the doors wide open for us, like ‘welcome, tell us what you need’.”
The sequel to the action movie featured access to the secretive China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in California’s Mojave Desert, the director said.
It also featured Val Kilmer, who played Iceman in the original film and who lost his voice as a result of throat cancer treatment.
“Val felt comfortable doing this. It was very exciting,” Bruckheimer said.
“He’s still an amazing person and actor,” the producer said. “Tom actually said, ‘I’m not going to do this movie unless Val is in it.'”