This is one of those seemingly small details that many moviegoers would miss. Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Top Gun that finally flies into theaters in 2020, just released its first trailer. There was a lot to see and hear and appreciate, and it's understandable if most of us missed the flag patches on the back of Maverick's iconic jacket. The fact that Tom Cruise's character broke out his old bomber jacket brought some nostalgia smiles, but several viewers pointed out the not-so-subtle differences from 1986 to the new movie:
Interesting. International reporter Mark MacKinnon, formerly a correspondent in Beijing, replied in his own thread with an update that the "mystery" was solved, showing China's Tencent Pictures as one of the main producers of Top Gun: Maverick. So the suggestion he and others are making is that Top Gun: Maverick changed Maverick's classic jacket to be more China-friendly, removing flags for Japan and Taiwan.
China has complex and tense relationships with both China and Taiwan. The Chinese market is also hugely important to international box office -- now more than ever. In the past year, we've seen how foreign markets can save a film that dies quickly at the domestic (U.S./Canada) market. Stars like Tom Cruise still have tremendous international appeal, and China is the second biggest box office market in the world after U.S./Canada.
For example, Tom Cruise's last movie was 2018's Mission: Impossible - Fallout, which was a great movie and also Cruise's highest-grossing film to date. That puppy made $791,115,104 worldwide, with $570.9 million coming from the foreign box office compared to $220 million at the domestic box office. China was far and away the biggest help on the foreign market front with $181 million from that nation alone, per Box Office Mojo figures.
Also consider a movie like Tom Cruise's 2017 film The Mummy. That movie reportedly cost $125 million to make and only made $80.2 million at the domestic market, with $329 million saving it overseas. China once again had the most to offer with $91 million -- more than the domestic box office.
So it's not hard to believe that Top Gun: Maverick would make a seemingly small change like swapping out flags to make China happy.
Will this flag situation change anything for U.S. viewers? I would imagine not, it's just another thing to keep in mind about the power and influence of a country like China on the U.S. film industry.
Fans still seem pumped for Top Gun: Maverick, including Chris Pratt, who was quick to promote the movie, even though he has no direct connection to it:
Top Gun: Maverick will end up taking a lot of money when it opens June 26, 2020, and apparently it will be using never-before-seen technology along the way. The film also brings back Val Kilmer as Iceman, and adds Miles Teller as the late Goose's son, plus Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro, and Manny Jacinto.