Here’s How Much ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Paid the US Navy to Use Its Fighter Jets

by Shelby Scott

As we’ve seen in the weeks leading up to the premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick,” a lot of time, effort, and care went into making sure the film conveyed the realities of U.S. Naval aviators as authentically as possible. So, obviously, when it came to filming aerial stunts, Tom Cruise took to the skies in a real-life fighter jet. However, just because you’re Tom Cruise does not mean the Navy rents out their fighter jets for free. In making “Top Gun: Maverick,” the cost, per hour, for the film’s creators to utilize the military’s F/A-18s is absolutely jaw-dropping.

A recent report from Bloomberg reports Paramount Pictures, who produced “Top Gun: Maverick,” spent $11,374 per hour to use the F/A-18 Super Hornets. Screen Rant states the overall cost for the production of “Top Gun: Maverick” is still unclear. But, the movie had a reported production budget of $170 million.

Despite the costliness of the new movie, it’s likely to see a massive return. The outlet reports “Top Gun: Maverick” is set to become one of the biggest opening weekends of Tom Cruise’s career. In addition, it’s also likely to be one of the biggest opening Memorial Day weekends.

How Did the Military Influence ‘Top Gun: Maverick’?

Aside from using the military’s F/A-18 Super Hornets, “Top Gun: Maverick” creators worked extremely closely with the U.S. military. In fact, Screen Rant reports Paramount Pictures might have paid more for the aircraft if executives didn’t work cordially with the Navy.

As per the outlet, plenty of films, aside from “Top Gun,” have seen influence from the U.S. military. Several include “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and the “Transformers” franchise.

As per the outlet, filmmakers can get access to military weapons and vehicles at a lower cost if they remain open to input from the Department of Defense. This, essentially, includes letting military officials take a look at the script, pitching suggestions for corrections where they feel necessary. Filmmakers can choose to ignore those suggestions. However, the military can pull their decision to allow filmmakers to utilize their equipment and technology.

For example, filmmakers for “The Avengers” saw their military access pulled when the DOD objected to Marvel’s SHIELD sending a nuclear warhead at New York.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Cast Participated in F/A-18 Ride-Alongs with Trained Pilots

The technology and equipment featured in “Top Gun: Maverick” isn’t the only authentic aspect of the film. The scenes that show our fictional pilots airborne actually took place on real F/A-18 Hornets.

Screen Rant states that, while Tom Cruise insisted on filming in the actual cockpits of the Navy’s Hornets, he and the other “Top Gun” stars were not allowed to touch the controls. More specifically, the DOD prohibits non-military individuals from controlling any of its assets aside from small arms in training scenarios.

In order to combat that problem, Tom Cruise and the rest of the movie’s fictional pilots rode in the aircraft behind trained F/A-18 pilots. In doing so, the actors could get a real feel for the gravitational force naval aviators experience while airborne.