Paramount CEO Defends Tom Cruise And Co’s Reasoning Behind Holding Top Gun: Maverick For Years And Whether Or Not A Sequel Makes Sense

Top Gun Maverick is the highest grossing movie of the year and, barring the massive success of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever or a late box office run from Avatar: The Way of Water, it’s going to end the year that way. It’s a clear vindication of Paramount’s decision to wait until the box office was in a state to better ensure the film’s success. However, that ended meaning the film was delayed for a really long time.

Top Gun: Maverick was originally set to open in June of 2020 and while that obviously didn’t happen due to the global pandemic, the movie ended up opening nearly two full years later, which was much longer than other major tentpole releases. Paramount CEO Bob Bakish recently told CNN that because the studio was confident that Maverick had real potential, opening the movie just as theatrical distribution was getting back underway simply didn’t make sense. He explained…

It was pretty clear that that wasn’t a viable idea. The world was pretty shut down, you weren’t going to put an expensive movie that you had real hopes for… in theaters and have nobody come.

Of course, there were other alternatives to even releasing the movie in theaters. Many studios decided to move projects to streaming services, and Paramount even had one of those. It’s hard to image the exclusive release of Top Gun: Maverick via streaming would not have resulted in a mass of new Paramount+ subscriptions, especially considering what the audience reaction eventually was. However, it was apparently felt so strongly that Maverick was a “big screen movie” that everybody agreed not to go that route.

It had to be a tough call. Top Gun: Maverick, like all major tentpole movies, costs hundreds of millions of dollars to produce and from a strict business standpoint there's going to be a desire to see a return on that investment. Even seeing some money come in to help cover the costs is preferable to no money.

In the end, the movie opened in theaters, and did so after Spider-Man: No Way Home had already made over $1 billion, so it was clear the audience was there if the movie was what that audience wanted. And it certainly was. The film’s success is so massive that one has to wonder if a Top Gun 3, that would hopefully happen much faster than Maverick, could happen. Bakish doesn’t discount the possibility, but he’s clearly not looking to make that sequel just because, it needs to be right. He continues…

You’ve got to have the stars align again. You’ve got to have a story that people love and you’ve got to put the team together. We’ll see.

It took decades for those stars to align for Top Gun: Maverick, but the wait was apparently worth it. Perhaps the stars will align again and we will get Top Gun 3 someday, though it could be many more years.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.