The US Navy has loaned Tom Cruise F/A-18 Super Hornets for the new “Top Gun” movie. The only catch: The studio paid a whopping $11,374 an hour to use the high-end fighter jets — and Cruise couldn’t touch the controls.
The star of “Mission Impossible”, famous for performing his own stunts, insisted that all the actors portraying pilots in the long-delayed movie “Top Gun: Maverick” in one of Boeing Co.’s fighter jets. so they could understand what it feels like to be a pilot operating under the strain of immense gravitational forces.
Cruise, 59, had also flown in a jet for the original “Top Gun,” a huge success in 1986.
Cruise ended up flying more than a dozen flights for the new film, but a Pentagon regulation prohibits civilian personnel from checking Department of Defense property other than small arms in training scenarios, according to Glen Roberts, the head of the entertainment media agency. of the Pentagon. Instead, the actors drove behind F/A-18 pilots after completing the required training on how to jump out of the plane in an emergency and survive at sea.
Roberts said the Navy allowed the production to use planes, aircraft carriers and military bases, although he said the real Top Gun pilots aren’t the arrogant control benders portrayed in the film, people who “would never exist in the naval aviation”. Instead, they’re studious air nerds who toil for hours in class and participate in intense training flights at Nevada’s Naval Air Station Fallon, the site of the actual Top Gun school.
A movie “doesn’t have to be a love letter to the military” to win partnership with the Pentagon, Roberts said. But it must “uphold the integrity of the military”. Filmmakers must have funding and distribution for their project and be willing to submit their script for military review. While the Pentagon can request changes, Roberts said he knew nothing about “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Roberts said that in his years working for the Pentagon’s media agency, he has never seen the level of excitement generated around “Top Gun: Maverick.”
The film is expected to land Cruise its first $100 million domestic opening. According to an estimate by Boxoffice Pro, it could generate about $130 million in ticket sales in the US and Canada over the weekend, excluding the Memorial Day holiday. That would make it one of the biggest movies of the past two years.
Paramount Pictures said in the production notes for the film that Cruise created its own demanding flight training program for the film’s young actors so that they could withstand the nausea-inducing rigors of aerial maneuvers and play their roles with “actual naval pilots who take them on the ride of their lives.”
The film will be released this week after delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Scenes were shot aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in August 2018 during a training exercise with the Army’s F-35C Lightning II fighter jet, Roberts said. The production was also filmed at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Central California.
The Super Hornet, a jet known as the “Rhino,” gets the highest bill in the movie over the more advanced F-35C built by Lockheed Martin Corp. because that’s what the film’s script called for, Roberts said. He also noted that the F-35 is a single-seat plane, so the actors couldn’t drive it.
Filmmakers reimburse the Pentagon for each aircraft, unless they are already used in a previously scheduled training exercise or the flight can be counted towards the pilot’s required time at checkpoints. In 2018, when much of the shooting for “Top Gun: Maverick” was done, the going rate for the jets was $11,374.
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