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The Moment Top Gun: Maverick Producer Jerry Bruckheimer And His Actors Realized How Massive The Tom Cruise Movie Was Following Its Release

There was a lot of anticipation for the release of Top Gun: Maverick, especially considering how many times it was delayed, but kudos if you were among the people who predicted it would be the most successful 2022 movie release. Not only has Tom Cruise’s latest flick been showered with praise by critics and general audiences alike, it’s still the only movie of the year to cross $1 billion worldwide, and has now overtaken Titanic to become Paramount Pictures’ highest-grossing feature film domestically. With three months having passed since Maverick premiered in theaters, I took the opportunity to ask some of its talent when they realized just how massive this movie was following its release.

Starting off, we have producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who carried out the same duties on the original Top Gun. Bruckheimer played an integral role in getting Top Gun: Maverick off the ground with Tom Cruise, and as he laid out to me in the following statement, one of the movie’s big draws is immersing audiences into a high-flying world that they’ll never be a part of that’s so entertaining, many are seeing Maverick on the big screen numerous times. In Bruckheimer’s words:

Every day was an adventure. You never quite know what’s going to happen with an audience, if it’s gonna fall off a cliff or not. It’s like a mountain that keeps growing. Yesterday’s grosses were better than last week’s grosses on the same day, so you just never know. This movie keeps going, people have seen it multiple times, it’s enormously entertaining. We take inside a world that they’ll never be a part of, or most people won’t be a part of, an aviator, and show them how it works, and they get a ride in an F-18 in that movie, and in the theater, when you see it in IMAX or a big screen, it is a great ride. It’s something that I think will last with you. People have seen it, as I said, multiple times, and it’s just such a thrill ride. You’re in that F-18 with our characters. That’s an experience you’ll never have in your life, most probably.

Next we have Charles Parnell, who starred in Top Gun: Maverick as RADM Solomon "Warlock" Bates, a longtime acquaintance of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Along with revealing his favorite memory with Tom Cruise on the production, Parnell informed me about how he realized what a big hit Maverick was upon interacting with some fans out in the world. He explained:

I’ll tell you, the first three people that approached me on the street [in a] coffee shop, getting a slice of pizza, whatever, none of them had seen the movie once. They had all seen it more than once… the other thing was, they didn’t make a big deal of how many times they saw it, that was just part of their, ‘Hi, Mr. Parnell, sorry to disturb you, I saw the movie four times, I really liked your…’ So that’s when I went, ‘Oh my! Wow!’ I was like, ‘You don’t even need that many people to see it if everybody’s gonna see it four times.’ But seriously, that’s when I realized it was heading for something big, ‘cause people kept going back to the movie theater. Because at first, you worry whether you’re gonna get people to go to the movie theater, because as a society, all of us were just so used to having it on the TV. But then when you hear people are coming several times, that really made me alert.

In the case of Greg “Tarzan” Davis, who played pilot Javy "Coyote" Machado, it started dawning on him just how successful Top Gun: Maverick would be when he started speaking with press for the sequel’s initial promotional circuit. Davis recalled:

It was when we first started doing the interviews. They had the early, early screenings for press, and every time somebody would come in, they would just not stop talking about the film. And it was like, ‘Hey, ok, y’all wanna come and sit down and do the interview, because y’all are pitching this amazingly!’ It was great, and after it would be done, we were just like, ‘Oh wow, people love it! People really, really love this film!’ So that was when I realized, ‘Yo, we have a hit on our hands.’

Finally, Danny Ramirez, who played WSO Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia, echoed Greg Davis’ thoughts about how critics responded so well to Top Gun: Maverick that their excitement was easily noticeable when the interviews happened afterwards, saying:

Yeah, I think around that same time, we were in the same room basically being like, ‘This is weird, this is weird, this has been a full day of everyone…’ They would start talking before the interview started recording. Out of pure enthusiasm, they were still from the high of leaving the movie theater even though it was the day before, ‘cause I think when we saw it, even though we experienced it, leaving that theater, I was on for a while. They rode the same rollercoaster I did, and they have the exact same effect. And yeah, that first day was moreso like… it was just like, you feel it in the air, and we’re all like, ‘This is definitely really special.’ 

Greg Davis added that prior to the Top Gun: Maverick junket, he thought listening to so much praise for the movie was what PR for a movie was generally like, in that “the studio pays interviewers to come in and talk highly of the film.” Davis then pointed how well Maverick is doing on Rotten Tomatoes, prompting Danny Ramirez to specifically highlight the 99% Audience Score. Ramirez then mentioned how people now have the option to watch Maverick “limitlessly” from “the comfort of their own homes,” and he’s “really excited about that.”

There are a few movies left to come out this year that may be able to cross the $1 billion marks, such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever or Avatar: The Way of Water, but whether they’ll come anywhere close to Top Gun: Maverick’s commercial haul or even critically received as warmly remains to be seen. Along with being available to watch both in theaters and digitally now, Paramount is releasing the 4K, Blu-ray and DVD copies of Maverick on November 1. As of this writing, there’s no word on when Paramount+ subscribers will be able to stream the sequel.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.