The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) is asking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to pull Top Gun: Maverick’s Oscar eligibility after learning the movie received funding from Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.
According to Newsweek, allegations that Rybolovlev indirectly funded the film came to light this past January, which put the movie under fire by several organizations. Nonetheless, it remains in the running for six awards, including Best Editing, Best Original Song, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
With the 95th annual ceremony kicking off tomorrow (March 12), UWC penned an open letter to the academy. It then shared the writing with the press. The group accuses Russia of trying to influence American culture through Hollywood and urges the academy to condemn the actions to ensure the situation doesn’t become a trend.
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“The Ukrainian World Congress expresses its serious concerns over Russia’s influence on the Hollywood film industry,” Paul Grod, UWC’s president, wrote in the letter, which he addressed to the academy’s president, Janet Yang. “Rybolovlev’s funding of Top Gun: Maverick was not publicly disclosed. And there is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin.”
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Mission Impossible’ Both Allegedly Received Funding from the Russian Oligarch
Grod alleged that the billionaire funneled money into Top Gun: Maverick through LA-based New Republic Pictures. The production company has helped finance several Paramount films over the past three years. However, Deadline reports it does not have any creative input in the projects.
The claims originally came from New Republic President Bradley Fisher. In a breach of contract lawsuit, he said that Rybolovlev invested in not only Top Gun: Maverick but also the most recent Mission Impossible installments. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report.
Rybolovlev wouldn’t have the right to push a pro-Russian narrative per the terms of the contract. But Grod still believes he had an influence on the storyline.
“Contrary to the original film, Top Gun: Maverick makes no direct or indirect reference to Russia. This is hardly a coincidence,” he continued. “Hollywood must be vigilant and transparent of Russian money being used to further pro-Kremlin censorship.”
Rybolovlev is believed to be one of Russia’s top oligarchs with an estimated $6.6 billion fortune. He is one of several of the country’s businessmen sanctioned by Ukraine president Volodymyr since the beginning of the war. The United States, however, has not taken any such actions against him.