“Top Gun: Maverick” tops the box office

The long awaited sequel wows audiences and critics alike

After a year-long delay, Top Gun: Maverick was finally released to anticipating audiences on May 27, 2022– 36 years after the first Top Gun was released. It took an entire decade to complete the process, with eight years of development and two years of production. It was originally set to be released on July 12, 2019, but the movie went through five pandemic-related delays. In the end, the wait was worth it, and the success of the movie itself was phenomenal. 

Five months later, Top Gun: Maverick is still playing in theaters, performing extremely well in the box office as one of the biggest films of all time. The movie hit the cinemas in the summer as a Memorial Day kickoff and right away it rose to the top. An overwhelming amount of praising reviews were accompanied by full movie theaters and sold out tickets as people across generations rushed to see the movie. The film had a budget of 170 million, but in total it racked up a whopping 1.4 billion dollars, becoming the highest grossing movie of the year and the sixth highest grossing movie of all time in U.S. movie theaters.   

Top Gun: Maverick delivered quality and enjoyment that soared beyond expectations. It was a thrilling adventure curated and created to give viewers the best experience possible. “We made it for the big screen. And we made it for you, the fans,” said actor Tom Cruise on Twitter the day before release. 

There were many connections between Top Gun: Maverick and the first Top Gun, which had a huge impact not only on the box offices, but on culture as well. Aside from boosted sales of Ray-bBan aviator glasses and motorcycles, it was also announced that Top Gun increased interest in the Navy’s aviation program. The rumored statistic was that the 1986 Top Gun film led to a 500% increase in naval recruiting, but it was a much more modest 8%, according to a fact check from the Australian Associated Press. Film producer John Davis described Top Gun as a recruiting video for the Navy, due to its overwhelming success and influence. 

Notably, when the first movie was released, it was during the Cold War era of the ‘80s. In the course of that time, there was a clear view of who the “enemy” was, even if it was not specifically stated. The movie elicited a sense of patriotism, and yet in Top Gun: Maverick, the identity of the enemy isn’t revealed. The audience is never told who they are fighting against, and it is left for people to conclude for themselves. The enemy pilots hide their faces behind darkened visors and display no flag, but the reveal of an enemy isn’t even needed to boost the success of the film. Rather than playing into the side of politics, the motion picture highlights the strength and courage of a small group of elite fighter pilots sacrificing their lives.

All the scenes look real, because they are. F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35s were used for the movie, costing up to $11,374 an hour, with IMAX cameras mounted to the inside and outside of the planes. Cruise is well known for doing his own stunts, so in order for the rest of the cast to actually fly, he made preparations for all the actors to go through rigorous flight training. As a pilot himself, he developed a specialized program for his cast of young pilots: Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Monica Barbaro, Greg Tarzan Davis, Lewis Pullman, and Danny Ramirez. Two years of flight training was condensed into just three months, and after working hard to build up their G-force tolerance, the upcoming stars became ready to transition into the F-18 cockpit.   

A homage to the original, the film brought something new to the screen in a way that was both exciting and nostalgic. From start to finish the movie was an emotional ride, moving the audience and keeping them on the edge of their seats. Main character Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s journey as he fought to face his fears and train his team was one that kept viewers invested. The soundtrack and acting made every scene extraordinary. With enough ups and downs to keep each event a thrilling surprise, the payoff of a satisfying journey and conclusion made the experience one to remember and never forget.

The reaction people had worldwide will surely add to Top Gun’s great legacy. Earning a 4.8/5 audience rating and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is a spectacle ready to be watched over and over again for years to come. In the US, Top Gun: Maverick can be purchased on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, and YouTube.