Skip to main content

Yes, Top Gun: Maverick Paid To Use Actual Fighter Planes And Yes, It Cost The Movie A Pretty Penny

It goes without saying that just like with the original Top Gun, it wouldn’t have been possible to shoot Top Gun: Maverick without the proper aircraft. Namely, the sequel required access to actual fighter planes, including F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35s. Well, Maverick’s cast and crew acquired those fighter planes, but it cost a pretty penny to make that happen.

Now to be clear, Tom Cruise and his costars who played pilots in Top Gun: Maverick did actually fly for the movie. However, when it came to the F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35s, Bloomberg reports that not only did it cost as much as $11,374 an hour to borrow these fighter planes from the U.S. Navy, but Tom Cruise and the other actors weren’t allowed to touch the controls due to Pentagon regulations preventing civilians from controlling a Defense Department asset other than small arms in training scenarios. Instead, Cruise and the actors rode behind the pilots of these fighter planes after completing the required training on how to eject from the plane in an emergency and how to survive at sea.

Spending over $10,000 an hour just for access to a fighter plane is definitely not the sort of thing that could be done without funding from a major studio, but fortunately Paramount Pictures is a big Hollywood player. With a reported budget of $170 million, renting those jets likely carved out a decent portion of that allocated money. Having said that, it was also mentioned in the report that filmmakers don’t need to reimburse the Pentagon for the aircraft if they’re already being “used in a previously scheduled training exercise or the flight can be counted toward the pilot’s required time at the controls.”

In any case, this was money well spent as part of putting Top Gun: Maverick together. The sequel, which was directed by Joseph Kosinski and written by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, finally opened wide to the public on May 27, nearly three full years after it was once supposed to hit theaters. We reunited with Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he was tasked with training a select group of TOPGUN graduates for a dangerous mission. Cruise’s costars included Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Jay Ellis and Danny Ramirez.

Along with scoring critical acclaim, including our own Eric Eisenberg giving the movie 4 out of 5 stars in his review, Top Gun: Maverick is one of the biggest commercial successes of 2022. It’s not only the highest-grossing movie of the year worldwide so far, it’s also the first to surpass $1 billion. Tom Cruise and Miles Teller have even talked about the possibility of making Top Gun 3, and obviously we’ll let you know whether or not a threequel actually moves forward.

Top Gun: Maverick is still playing in theaters, but it will become available to stream for Paramount+ subscribers sometime later this year. Look though our 2022 release schedule to see what movies are left to come out this year.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

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