‘Top Gun: Maverick’: U.S. Military Branches Looking at Recruitment Boost Following Sequel’s Massive Opening Weekend

by Shelby Scott

When “Top Gun” premiered in 1986, the U.S. Navy saw a jump in recruitment that, within a year, resulted in a major spike in the branch’s popularity. Now, more than three decades following the original film’s debut, recruiters are hoping the massive success “Top Gun: Maverick” saw during its opening weekend will, once again, grow enlistment for both the Navy and the U.S. Air Force.

According to Fox News, a bump in the military’s popularity following “Top Gun: Maverick’s” premiere would be a major score. As per the outlet, recruitment rates have dropped across the board over the last few years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic especially caused shortages despite even lower target points than in years past.

Of the film’s recent release, however, commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Thomas, said, “We did get a good recruiting bump in from ‘Top Gun’ in 1986.”

He added that at the time of the original’s release, “I was already excited about military aviation, but I got even more excited.”

As per the outlet, “Top Gun’s” 1986 debut resulted in a 500% increase in application from young men striving to become naval aviators. Now, Thomas is hoping “Top Gun: Maverick” will do what the original accomplished so many years ago.

“You know, whether people want to aim high or fly Navy,” he said, “we just want them to get excited about serving the nation in some capacity.”

Before “Top Gun: Maverick” soared to record success over Memorial Day weekend, the outlet states the Air Force attempted to cap on the film’s early critical acclaim. Weeks prior, the Air Force released a high-octane recruitment ad, highlighting the dynamism of American aviators.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Used Genuine Naval Fighter Jets, Costing Filmmakers $11K Per Hour

“The Earth is 70% water and 30% land,” the ad’s narrator begins, “but the entire sky belongs to us.”

If that doesn’t get you even a little pumped up about our nation’s Air Force, I’m not sure what will. Regardless, if the military’s hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping recruitment ad looks at all similar to the g-force-rate frames we saw in “Top Gun: Maverick,” it’s because, in both cases, there wasn’t a single green screen involved.

Weeks before the sequel’s long-awaited debut, we learned Tom Cruise designed the intense training program for the new film’s actors. But that’s not all. He also insisted on taking to the skies in real-life fighter jets. More recently, we learned the Hollywood icon and his costars were prohibited from touching the aircraft’s controls. Nevertheless, every aerial scene in the film was done thousands of feet above the Earth.

Overall, while “Top Gun” became one of the most iconic films of the ’80s, its sequel bears a much closer resemblance to the realities of real-life naval aviators. That said, conveying such realism cost Tom Cruise and the movie’s filmmakers quite a pretty penny.

In utilizing the Navy’s F/A-18s, “Top Gun: Maverick’s” creators put out more than $11,000 per hour. However, for the sake of realism and accuracy, no price appeared too high for the franchise’s star, Tom Cruise.