Top Gun: Maverick Wasn’t ‘Through The Roof’ During Test Screenings But Jerry Bruckheimer Recalls The Moment He Knew The Movie Had Landed

Helmeted Tom Cruise flying fighter plane in Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Top Gun: Maverick was one of the most highly anticipated sequels we’ve seen in years. A follow-up to the movie that made Tom Cruise a star, and a story that fans, and Cruise himself had wanted to see for decades. It’s clear now just how much fans wanted a new Top Gun as the movie has made almost a billion and half dollars and is the highest grossing film of the year, but producer Jerry Bruckheimer admits the film's smash success wasn’t always so clear. 

Speaking with THR, Jerry Bruckheimer talked about the test screenings for Top Gun: Maverick which he says were solid, but not through the rough, mostly due to the younger audience that was less familiar with the original movie. However, once the movie was in threaters the producer says he had an experience in Kentucky that showed him just how big the movie was going to be. He explained…

They tell you a lot, but they can’t predict whether it’s a hit. The test screenings on Maverick had a high score, but it wasn’t through the roof. The lower part of the score was the younger audience, while older people who saw the original were very enthusiastic. Then it came out and just started snowballing, and it hit from ages 8 to 80. I was in Kentucky for a funeral, and this woman comes up to me and said, ‘I work at this company and we have a contest of who can see Top Gun the most times. I’ve seen it 25.’ And a young girl had come up to me and said, ‘My dad was suicidal and going to end his life. He saw Top Gun. It gave him hope.’ You captivate an audience and you can change people’s lives.

While one person seeing the film 25 times certainly isn’t going to have a massive impact on the box office, except maybe in that town, it’s a pretty safe bet that if a company is Kentucky is having a contest to see who can watch the movie the most, the rest of the country, and probably the world, is reacting to the movie in similar ways. 

There clearly was a belief that Top Gun: Maverick had a chance at being a big hit. The movie was held for theatrical release while other major tentpole films got sent to streaming or were released early in the post-pandemic period. Maverick waited for what was clearly the right moment, and everything paid off, though apparently even more than Jerry Bruckheimer and others thought it would. 

If Top Gun: Maverick were any other franchise you'd expect to be hearing talk about Top Gun 3 right now. While the Paramount certainly hasn't written off that possibility, it appears the plan is to wait and see if a story presents itself.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.